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Get to know the Minnesota American Legion’s Suicide Prevention Coalition

Andrea Perry works in suicide prevention for the Minneapolis VA. She spoke at the Fall Conference in Mahnomen.

Department of Minnesota to partner with Minneapolis VA

By Mike Parry

WASECA — A new program is forming, and it is aimed at halting veteran suicides. It is called the Minnesota American Legion Family Suicide Prevention Coalition.

“This coalition is not actually formed yet — that is what we are aiming to do — get members interested and create a new coalition together,” said Minneapolis VA Suicide Prevention Community Engagement and Partnerships Coordinator Andrea Perry, who spoke at the Department Fall Conference in Mahnomen in October.

Calling all posts

Are you interesting in helping out from the very start?

Perry, whom some may know by her maiden name, Sandberg, is leading an informational meeting happening over Microsoft Teams video conference from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17.

Click here to join the meeting through Microsoft Teams.

If you encounter troubles with the link, contact Perry at andrea.sandberg@va.gov or Department of Minnesota Adjutant Mike Maxa mmaxa@mnlegion.org.

How it began

Maxa said the idea for the coalition started when a veteran contacted him and introduced him to Perry.

“I attended the Southeastern Minnesota Coalition meeting and thought the Department of Minnesota needs to be part of this,” Maxa said. ““I felt the department can use its tools, social media, website, the Legionnaire and our newly formed Media & Communications Committee to help disseminate the information.”

Maxa asked local posts across Minnesota to keep an open mind regarding suicide and helping veterans in need.

“Get the veteran in contact with the service that can help them. The local posts would most likely be the first line of defense,” Maxa said.

What is it?

Perry said this kind of coalition is a community-based effort that aims to ensure health, safety and well-being of servicemembers, veterans and their families where they live, work and thrive.

After establishing the American Legion Family Suicide Prevention Coalition, the first order of business, she said, will be training on what to look for.

“We need your help. Your voice and expertise are valuable in helping prevent suicide,” Perry said. “Please consider joining us in the fight to eliminate suicide in veterans, servicemembers and their families within our Minnesota communities.”

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