LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Even as the U.S. military presence overseas begins to drop, the wounds of war are becoming increasingly present back at home.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says post-traumatic stress disorder poses a rising risk to our veterans. So many free resources are available out there to not only current military members and veterans, but also their families and friends. In too many instances, it's not getting to the people who need it most.
Sean Cassedy inspired his mother's new career and her new life's work.
"I don't know where this is going to take me but I know that I'll be working as a psychiatric nurse for the rest of my life," Carol Cassedy said.
Sean, a decorated marine who served several tours in Iraq, suffered wounds of war, as he told us in a 2007 interview.
"I had spider fractures through both my legs, I had a fractured pelvis, I had a fractured hip and gunshot wound to the right inner thigh," he said.
For two years his mother Carol was Sean's primary caregiver but there were wounds that would not heal.
"The physical ones healed relatively quickly but it was the mental, the psychogenic issues that we continued to struggle with," Carol said.
"I was just trying to work myself until I was exhausted and I couldn't think and then I'd go to sleep and I'd wake up repeat the cycle," Sean said in 2007.
Sean ended up taking his own life, one of the approximately one service member every hour to do so. Stories like his are the reasons that gatherings like this are so important.
"Part of the problem that we have is even if we have the services, many people don't know about them," said Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear.
She and those who work at the Robley Rex Louisville V.A. Medical Center on Monday urged service members and their families to take the help that's out there: a veterans crisis line available 24 hours a day, free access to therapists and peer support to help veterans find available resources including mental health treatment.
Carol said it's a whole mindset that needs to shift.
"If I could see something change in the military it would be to remove the stigma of treatment for PTSD," Carol said.
Because the pain of Sean's story lives on.
"The cost doesn't end with that person," she said. "The cost ends with the families, the unexpected tragedy: What do we do next?"
Kentucky is currently in the process of setting into motion an initiative that would try to get the state and federal departments that serve military service members and their families.
The following information was provided on resources available to military members and veterans:
"Because timely intervention is the key to saving a life, a free Veterans Crisis Line is available to provide immediate help. Use the line 24 hours a day via phone, text or Internet. Call 1-800-273-8255 (press 1); send a text to 838255. Confidential online chat is available at www.veteranscrisisline.net.
Coaching into Care is a free service from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, supported by licensed clinical social workers and psychologists. Family, friends and neighbors of veterans can get confidential assistance to figure out how to seek needed services. (http://mirecc.va.gov/coaching/)
Peer support is available. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs encourages veterans and families to "Make the Connection" with other veterans and resources that can help improve their lives. MakeTheConnection.net is a one-stop resource where veterans, families and friends can learn about available resources and support, including mental health treatment options.
This year, the state began the Kentucky Military Behavioral Health Initiative. Its purpose is to collaborate with the federal government and community partners to strengthen behavioral health services for veterans, service members and their families. This effort involves more strategic delivery of services to our military families, therefore increasing coordinated care."
More information about services for Kentucky veterans is available, by clicking here.