As a nation, we honor and respect our military veterans for their sacrifice, service, and courage. We thank them for defending our freedom and securing our future. We praise them for their excellence and professionalism in performing their duties. We celebrate them for their diversity and camaraderie as brothers and sisters in arms. Yet, we also recognize that being a veteran is not always easy or glamorous. Many veterans face physical, mental, and social challenges that can affect their well-being, relationships, and transition to civilian life.
That’s why Buddy Check Week is so important. Buddy Check Weekwill be observed from October 16 – October 20 and is a nationwide initiative to encourage veterans to reach out to their fellow veterans, especially those who may be struggling with physical or mental health issues, isolation, or other concerns. Buddy Check Week reminds us that we are not alone, that we have a duty to care for each other, and that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Buddy Check Week also raises awareness about the resources and services available to veterans, such as the Veterans Crisis Line, VA health care, and community programs and organizations.
So how can you participate in Buddy Check Week? Here are some tips:
Reach out to a fellow veteran whom you haven’t talked to in a while. Ask how they are doing, how their family and work are, and if they need any help or support. Listen to their response and offer encouragement, empathy, and advice. Share your own experiences and insights, and remind them that you are there for them.
Schedule a face-to-face or virtual coffee, lunch, or activity with a fellow veteran. Catch up on old memories, share stories and photos, and enjoy each other’s company. Make it a regular event if possible, and invite other veterans to join you.
Attend or organize a Buddy Check event in your community or online. Buddy Check events can range from simple gatherings of veterans at a cafe or park to elaborate fundraisers, ceremonies, or educational forums. Contact your local VA or VSO to learn about upcoming events or how to start your own.
Educate yourself and others about the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues among veterans, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. Learn how to recognize these symptoms in yourself and others, and how to seek help and support. Share this knowledge with your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors, and encourage them to do the same.
Advocate for policies and programs that support veterans’ health, education, employment, and housing. Write to your elected officials, attend town hall meetings, and join veteran organizations that lobby for veterans’ rights and benefits. Make your voice heard and your actions count.
Buddy Check Week is not just a symbolic gesture or a one-time event. Buddy Check Week is a reminder of our ongoing responsibility to each other as veterans and as human beings. Buddy Check Week is a challenge to step out of our comfort zone, reach out to others, and build meaningful connections based on respect, trust, and empathy. Buddy Check Week is an opportunity to show our support and care for our fellow veterans, and to honor the values and principles that we fought for and believe in. Buddy Check Week is a call to action.