2016-2017 National Hospital Ambassador
Host a Memorial Day Ceremony / Explore Online Mental Health Awareness Resources
May is a month in which we pay special tribute to our nation’s military. It’s Military Appreciation Month and May holidays include Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day. Please take the time to say “thank you” to active-duty service members and remember those service members who are no longer with us. Memorial Day can be especially difficult for those who have served in our nation’s armed forces as they are reminded of their fallen comrades.
Ask the volunteer or activities coordinator if your Auxiliary could host a Memorial Day ceremony for those who are in medical facilities and are unable to attend or take part in public events and ceremonies. If you are unable to host a ceremony, there might be a patient who would like to reminisce about a lost comrade or the facility might need help with a Memorial Day service they have planned.
If your Auxiliary is hosting a ceremony at a medical facility, it doesn’t need to be elaborate. It can be a simple ceremony using a small table for an altar, a Bible, a candle to light (or a battery operated candle), and a prayer for the souls of the military members killed in service. If you host or participate in a service, it would be a thoughtful gesture to read names of the deceased while hospitalized veterans lay a flower on the altar in their memory. If you are unable to use flowers, ring or tap a small bell after each name is read. Ask your Veterans Service Officer (VSO) or city hall records office for the names of veterans from your community who were killed in action (KIA).
May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. I encourage you to explore various online resources available to veterans, active-duty military, their families and caregivers, including:
- Veterans Crisis Line – The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available.
- Make the Connection – Make the Connection is an online resource designed to connect Veterans, their family members and friends, and other supporters with information, resources, and solutions to issues affecting their lives.
- The Campaign to Change Direction – The goal of the Campaign to Change Direction is to change the culture of mental health in America so that all of those in need receive the care and support they deserve. The Campaign encourages all Americans to pay attention to their emotional well-being – and it reminds us that our emotional well-being is just as important as our physical well-being. You are encouraged to know the Five Signs that may mean someone in your life is experiencing emotional pain and what to do next.
Please know if you are a veteran, active-duty service member or a friend/family member of a veteran or active-duty service member, you are not alone in the challenges you face.
I want to thank each and every volunteer for the time they took to positively impact the life of a hospitalized veteran this year. I enjoyed reading the outstanding promotions from Department Hospital Chairman and was fascinated by the many ways members were encouraged to participate in the Hospital Program. Your unique suggestions in recruiting volunteers, recognizing their volunteerism, educating your members and community on military suicide, holding an event to promote mental health awareness, and supporting the Veterans Voices Writing Project were fabulous. Thank you all for your hard work and dedication to this program.
Have a wonderful summer and I look forward to seeing many of you at National Convention in New Orleans in two months!