How to make Buddy Check wristbands for public awareness

American Legion Buddy Checks are to be conducted during the week of the Legion’s birthday per Resolution 18. Download the Buddy Check Toolkit to help you connect with Legionnaires and veterans in your community.

The American Legion Department of Oregon has also created an engaging tool to help you prepare for and promote Buddy Checks, a well as Be the One.

The Department of Oregon created colorful wristbands to educate the public on the Legion’s Buddy Check program and Be the One suicide prevention awareness initiative and to give them something they can wear daily as a reminder. 

Two wristbands are in 4×6 Ziplock bags with a cardstock insert educating on Buddy Checks or Be the One.

“We went with two bracelets per pack to create the opportunity of engagement,” said Department 1st Vice Commander Cory Brockmann. “You can pull one out and wear it and give the other to someone else. So wear it and share it.”

The Buddy Check packets feature a variety of slipknot wristband colors – yellow, red, white, black, orange, blue, red, pink, green, hunter green, etc. While the Be the One wristband is silicone, red and blue, and has the American Legion brandmark, Be the One website and “Save a veteran” embossed on it.

To date, nearly 4,000 Buddy Check packets have been made and 8,000 slipknot wristbands.

How to make slipknot bracelets

– Watch YouTube videos. Brockmann searched “How to make slipknot bracelets” on YouTube and about 20, three-minute videos popped up. He then went to a sporting goods store and bought cord used for lacrosse rackets. He cut it into 18-inch lengths and practiced in front of his computer while watching the YouTube videos.

– Purchase string. Lacrosse net strings work or Brockmann found wholesalers (to make it cost effective) and bought spools of 300-foot paracord in a variety of colors that were on sale.

– Purchase white cardstock for the inserts. Brockmann lays three out on a single sheet.

– Identify funding. The Department of Oregon American Legion Foundation provided grants to cover the cost of the Buddy Check and Be the One wristbands. For about 3,000 Buddy Check packs it was $1,000; and around $1,200 for 5,000 Be the One silicone bracelets. “The beauty of this is that is scalable. You don’t have to have a grant for $1,000 or $1,500 and go all in. I would encourage folks to develop your design based on what your intended target is. Then grow it from there.”

– Make the wristbands. Brockmann said it’s been all volunteer work to make the slipknot wristbands that has included the whole Legion Family and Legion Baseball players. “It’s labor intensive, but it’s a great opportunity for relationships with the foundation and American Legion Family.”

Card inserts.

FRONT: Buddy Check

Our Mission: No veteran left behind. It’s that simple.

Because one is one too many.

BACK:  Please wear and share these slipknot bracelets as a reminder of the sacrifices made by veterans and our military servicemembers …. And as a symbol of the bond that unites us together, as one. American

Together, we can prevent veteran suicide.

(The back also features the Veterans Crisis Line phone number and website for more resources, and donation information to the department’s foundation to support suicide prevention efforts.)

FRONT: Be the One logo

BACK 1: The American Legion’s mission is to reduce the rate of veteran suicide by empowering veterans, servicemembers, their loved ones and anyone else to take action to save the life of one veteran when the need arises.

BACK 2: Wear or share this bracelet as a reminder of the sacrifices made by veterans, servicemembers and their families. It is a symbol of the bond that unites veterans and civilians together as Americans.

Together, we can all act to reduce the number of veteran suicides.

Be the One

Find opportunities of engagement

The Department of Oregon has left Be the One packets at VA hospitals and on a table they sponsored at a Veterans memorial fundraiser. They too handed out more than 800 Buddy Check packets to fans at a Portland Trail Blazers game.

“Be the One outreach is good for the public because the solution to ending veteran suicide isn’t just talking to veterans,” Brockmann said. “It’s talking to family members of veterans; it’s talking to the public … identifying with those that are friends with veterans. It’s going to take all of us to bring an end to veteran suicide.”

Brockmann added that you don’t have to live in a large metropolitan area to be successful in engaging. “The more events that bring engagement are smaller events.” You can create these packets for delivery at blood drives, farmers markets, fairs, parades and other community events.

“Successes can happen everywhere. There really are no failures. The key failure would be the one where you don’t take action. One step at a time; start small and build it.”