Minnesota Veterans Assistance Fund saves lives, offers hope for comrades

By Ray Kane

In a harrowing late-night incident, a Minnesota veteran’s life was saved thanks to the timely intervention of a dedicated individual trained in suicide prevention. The sound of a loaded gun being chambered, a chilling noise etched into the memory of any servicemember, was the desperate cry for help that sparked a race against time to prevent a tragic outcome.

Receiving a distress call at the unholy hour of 3 a.m., I, still groggy from sleep, found myself thrust into a critical situation. It was a fellow veteran on the other end of the line, consumed by overwhelming despair and contemplating taking their own life. The urgency of the situation heightened as the veteran mentioned the imminent arrival of their grandchildren the next morning.

Mugshot for Ray Kane
Ray Kane

Using the training acquired through his military service and participation in programs like Psych Armor, I employed crisis intervention techniques, keeping the distraught veteran engaged on the phone. Every ounce of knowledge gained through suicide prevention education became a lifeline for both the vulnerable individual on the brink and me.

Following the successful intervention, immediate steps were taken to secure professional assistance. The Minnesota Veterans Assistance Fund (aka Minnesota American Legion Foundation Fund 85), a vital American Legion resource dedicated to supporting veterans in crisis, stepped in to provide crucial financial aid. This lifeline ensured that the veteran could access treatment, including seeing a psychologist and receive the ongoing care they desperately needed.

The Minnesota Veterans Assistance Fund has been a beacon of hope for struggling veterans in its two years of existence, offering a safety net when they find themselves at their lowest point. By dedicating resources to this life-saving initiative, the coalition behind the fund seeks to ensure that no veteran is left without support in their darkest hour, our devotion to mutual helpfulness.

This incident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of ongoing training and development in suicide prevention efforts. With countless lives hanging in the balance, it is incumbent upon us all to hone our skills and contribute to the collective mission of saving veterans from the clutches of despair.

Tomorrow holds the promise of a brighter future for struggling veterans, but only if we remain committed to their well-being and offer the unwavering support they so desperately need. By coming together as a community, we can make a difference and save lives.

In this case, we were able to avert tragedy. The incident underscores the broader issue of veteran suicide, which continues to be a pressing concern. The Minnesota American Legion Family Suicide Prevention Coalition urges individuals, organizations and policymakers to rally behind the cause, directing additional funding and resources to combat this crisis.

Partnering with the coalition has further fortified the impacted need for Fund 85. This collaboration brings together various stakeholders, including mental health professionals, community organizations — and veterans themselves — to develop and implement comprehensive suicide prevention strategies. Through shared expertise and resources, these entities are working collectively to save lives and support our veterans in crisis.

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Scan QR code to donate to Minnesota American Legion Fund 85.

One of the critical aspects of this collaboration is the emphasis on training and development. The coalition conducts workshops and educational programs, equipping our Legion Family with the necessary tools to identify warning signs and intervene effectively. By disseminating knowledge and awareness about mental health issues, they empower communities to actively participate in suicide prevention efforts.

The combined efforts of the Minnesota Veterans Assistance Fund (Fund 85) and the Suicide Prevention Coalition have already yielded significant results. By ensuring that veterans receive the necessary support and connecting them to appropriate care through the VA, and other committed organizations lives have been saved, and individuals have found renewed hope. However, there is still much work to be done to combat this complex issue comprehensively.

In the spirit of The American Legion’s commitment to veterans’ welfare and rehabilitation, it is vital that we continue to shed light on the challenges faced by our servicemen and women after their return from duty. By raising awareness through articles like this one, we can inspire others to get involved and contribute to the cause of suicide prevention.

Together, we can make a significant impact and show our unwavering support for our veterans in their time of need. Fund 85 is in need of donations to keep this vital program solvent. Please donate to Minnesota American Legion Foundation — and in the memo write “Fund 85.”

Be The One.

Ray Kane is the department service officer for The American Legion Department of Minnesota. He is an accredited veterans service officer and a member of Hastings Post 47.