2016-2017 National Hospital Ambassador
Hospital: Plan Ahead for September Events
We’re halfway through August and it’s time to think ahead to ways to get involved with the Hospital Program in September. In addition to regularly scheduled volunteer opportunities, consider doing something for Suicide Awareness Month, Patriot Day and POW/MIA Recognition Day.
September is Suicide Awareness Month:
A recent study indicates the number of veteran and military suicides have dropped slightly because more people are seeking and getting the help they need. Several ways you can help continue the declining rate of veteran and military suicide are:
- Obtain awareness materials from the Veterans Crisis Line website at http://www.veteranscrisisline.net
- Check with your local hospital to see if their Community Outreach Program includes a class on promoting suicide awareness. Post the information on your Auxiliary website, on the information board at your VFW Post, send it out by email and include it in your newsletter.
- Wear a blue teardrop! Download the template from the National Organization’s website and carry a supply with you. Inevitably, someone will ask you what the teardrop represents. You can talk with them about veteran and military suicide awareness. Give them a teardrop and ask them to wear it and spread the word.
In my family, a nephew showed all the signs of suicide risk; unfortunately, he took his own life. At the time, we did not see the signs. WHY? Because we didn’t know what to look for. It’s devastating to know we could have possibly saved his life had we known the warning signs. Please educate yourself, Auxiliary and Post members, and the public on the signs that are commonly displayed by a person contemplating suicide.
September 11 – Patriot Day:
- Go to a local medical facility or adult day care center and ask to be introduced to veterans and/or the spouse/family member of a veteran. Strike up a conversation with them; ask what branch of service they or their loved one served in and then let them do the talking. You will likely hear proud, heartfelt stories of “those days” be it about their or loved ones military experience.
- Bring a handheld American Flag (consider gluing it into a small block of wood so it will stand on its own). Give one to each veteran to recognize when our homeland was attacked, service members were called up to serve and defeat our attackers just as their predecessors who served in previous conflicts did.
- Bring along a copy of Veterans Voices magazine and share stories in the magazine with veterans. You may find a veteran has a story to tell, but doesn’t know how to get his/her words on paper. You can help them by encouraging them to share their story and/or writing it down for them.
September 16 – POW-MIA Day (3rd Friday in September):
Many residents and patients hold very dear in their hearts their buddies who were Prisoners of War, as well as those who may still be Missing in Action.
- Host a POW/MIA ceremony at a medical facility. Bring with you a POW/MIA pin, symbol or flag glued to the center of a Buddy Poppy and garnish it with red, white and blue ribbon to hand out. Be sure to talk with the Activities Director to schedule the ceremony!
- If you can’t host a ceremony, ask if you can hand out POW/MIA pins, flags, etc., as a reminder there are service members who are unaccounted for.
- There are many remains of those Missing in Action being recovered today. Keep a record of the names and details of the service members being recovered as published in the Action Corps Weekly and share it with those residing at medical facilities.