National Buddy Check Week: Check on your veterans

“I want to implement this as an ongoing action that I take, not just for this week but I think this is a great inaugural event,” said public affairs officer and veteran Sara Yoke.

Are you a veteran, please take a moment to check in with your fellow service members and friends, that peer connection or reconnection may be just what they need.

Suicide prevention coordinator Lori Cook says suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility.

“Nationally 22 veterans per day complete suicide. That’s just too much,” she said. “If we can stop one veteran from completing suicide, I think that we have done our job and I would like to see this completely eliminated.”

We all get busy as adults and transitioning out of the military brings new responsibilities and challenges. It’s a great reminder that reaching out to your veteran buddies can be transformative. Yoke recently reconnected with a friend and they spoke for more than an hour.

“It was beneficial for both of us,” she said. “We were laughing about old memories and we’re able to catch up on each other’s current lives and also just share some of our past and current hardships that linger sometimes after service.”

National Buddy Check Week also teaches how to pay attention to signs of distress in your fellow veterans and respond in a way that’s compassionate, caring and calm. Know what resources are available — such as the veterans crisis line. The VA can help you reach out to people you haven’t talked to in years.

According to Cook, veterans were taught to work together in terrible conditions and they relied on each other quite often — so it’s crucial to look out for each other now.

“And just let them know that they care… sometimes just letting them know and being genuine can make such a difference,” the suicide prevention coordinator said.

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