On an average day, 22 men and women who served our Grateful Nation take their own lives. The fact that we lose so many every day is a heartbreakingly hard pill to swallow. To some, it’s a sign that we’re not doing enough to help those who served. With that in mind, one American Legion post brought their community together for a Bigfoot Scavenger Hunt. It was fun for everyone involved. However, the event’s true purpose was to raise awareness for veteran suicide and the resources available to help prevent it.
American Legion Post 4 in Billings, Montana held a Bigfoot Scavenger Hunt this year. The event offered plenty of Halloween fun as well as information on resources available to veterans. During the scavenger hunt, participants searched for bigfoot. However, each clue led them to a location at which they could find information about services available to veterans. For instance, it started at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Billings and ended at the local American Legion post, according to KTVQ.
The Bigfoot Scavenger Hunt dealt with a truly heartbreaking issue. However, the organizers also wanted the participants to have some Halloween fun. With that in mind, they encouraged everyone to wear costumes. Additionally, the American Legion post held a poker run during the hunt and a Halloween party with live music at the end. In short, they planned a good time for an important cause.
The organizers laid out the real goal of the Bigfoot Scavenger Hunt in the event’s announcement. “We… would love to see our community come together for a fun, engaging opportunity to have the backs of those who gave theirs for ours.” It sounds like Billings, Montana does Halloween right.
Participants Talk About the Bigfoot Scavenger Hunt
Wade Austin, a member of the National Guard talked about why he took part in the Bigfoot Scavenger Hunt. He said that he spent 21 years in the Guard and knew several soldiers who took their own lives. He says the veteran suicide rate, “…definitely has hit home many times and it’s not okay. We need to help take care of our veterans.”
James Hawkins, American Legion Post 4 membership coordinator, put the Bigfoot Scavenger Hunt together. He said that bringing awareness to the veteran suicide rate is more important than ever. Hawkins says the way the Afghan War ended has sent shockwaves through the veteran community. As a result, they’ve witnessed an increase in veteran suicides. “Everything that they risked their lives for and saw their friends die for, all of a sudden one day it was right back where they started.”
Dog Tag Buddies, an organization that offers canine companions and service dogs to veterans was a stop during the Bigfoot scavenger hunt. Their operations director, Kati Grove, spoke briefly about the event. “It’s huge that we have so many veteran organizations in the community that are all working towards a common cause,” she told KTVQ.
Remember, your mental health is part of your overall health. Veteran or not, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone if you feel the need for help. There are resources available in your community, Or, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-237-8255. Remember, it gets better.