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Palm Coast Friday, Sep. 25, 2020 11 months ago

Veterans Services Officer David Lydon recognized for helping save veteran from suicide

Lydon keeps in touch with the man and is assisting him with a VA claim.
by: Julie Murphy Flagler County Public Information Officer

Veterans Services Officer David Lydon received attention this week from the national office of the American Legion for taking a call and listening to a distraught Vietnam veteran, ultimately saving him from taking his own life.

“It was right about lunchtime when the call came in. I didn’t know what to make of it,” Lydon said. “The gentleman was hard to understand – he wasn’t making sense. I listened. I just kept listening, and let him talk.

The caller shared that listening to news reports about the number of lives lost to COVID-19 brought him back to his days serving in the Vietnam War and the death counts of American servicemen and -women. Having thought he called a national hotline – bounced around from line to line for 15 minutes until reaching Lydon – the veteran was surprised to learn he was speaking with someone in Flagler County.

“I don’t know where his call initiated, or where it was routed before I answered, but I am glad he reached me,” Lydon said. “He told me he was about 20 minutes away, and I asked him if he wanted to continue the conversation in person.”

Lydon believed he had gotten the caller past the impulse to harm himself, but was on pins and needles until the veteran arrived.

“He was late,” Lydon said. “I was worried. I called the non-emergency line to the Sheriff’s Office to have them do a well-being check, and that’s when he walked in. It was quite a relief.”

Lydon keeps in touch with the man and is assisting him with a VA claim.

“People often just need someone to talk to – someone to listen – to get them past a rough spot,” Lydon said. “It’s important not freeze. I had to let him know that he would be able to talk to me.”

The humble Lydon – a 36-year Air Force Reservist and a retired New York police officer, who has worked four years for Flagler County as its Veterans Services Officer – never told County Administration of his lifesaving phone call, which happened in July. Word came by way of a Google alert on September 23 that there was an article about him posted on “The American Legion” website.

Lydon said the local chapter became aware of the call, because he mentioned it during his radio show “Veterans on Point” (airs WNZF 94.9 FM and 1550 AM from 9:30 to 10 a.m. Sundays) while discussing PTSD and suicide prevention. The news traveled upward through the district to the national office.


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