The American Legion found the Buddy Check program was so successful when it first tried it earlier this year that it will now be a twice-yearly endeavor—including during the week of Veterans Day.
Veterans Day is an important holiday for a lot of associations and nonprofits focused on vets.
But as a new program from the American Legion shows, it has the potential to be even more important for the members they serve.
Next week, in honor of Veterans Day, the organization will run its “Buddy Check” program, which encourages American Legion members to call or personally visit fellow or former Legionnaires, with the goal of making sure that the organization is looking out for those who served.
As the organization explains on its website:
The idea is to reconnect with veterans who may need assistance but don’t know where to go or who to ask. For expired members, they may have just been waiting for a personal call or visit to renew. These contacts may be made by a personal visit, phone or email, or a combination. The important part is to reach out to veterans in your community to let them know you care and can provide whatever assistance they may need. It’s what we do for our battle buddies.
The Legion first ran this program in March in honor of the group’s 100th anniversary, with some taking steps to contact members in very tech-friendly ways. The American Legion Department of Colorado used Mailchimp to reach out to members at different posts throughout the state, even personalizing the messages with their length of membership and the era in which they served in the military.
The result reached members who were in need of outreach, including one member who was having trouble paying his utilities. The success of the March initiative will now lead the program to run twice yearly, including around Veterans Day and the group’s anniversary—though local posts can set alternate dates if they choose.
“Buddy Check is about seeing how veterans are doing. To discover that, it takes personal engagement,” American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad said in a March article.
And that personal engagement, if done at scale among its members, can pay off in a big way for those in need. The organization notes that if a group of 10 members calls up 10 members each, it allows 100 members to be reached in a single setting. While the program encourages member renewal, it also emphasizes the goal of showing current or lapsed members that someone cares.
For members who would like to help, the Legion is offering scripts [PDF] and suggestions on how to set up a successful Buddy Check. Sherri Marquis, a public affairs director at a Legion post in Somers, Connecticut, noted that the efforts were also beneficial to those making the calls.
“It was an experience every buddy check team member thought was fulfilling and very much needed,” she said last month. “We learned of members who were in poor health, needed assistance with VA benefits, (and) wanted to attend meetings but had no means of transportation, and were home bound and lonely and could use a visit/camaraderie.”