Social distancing taking its toll on veterans

Social distancing taking its toll on veterans

LOUISVILLE,KY (WAVE)- Social distancing impacts everyone differently.

One local veteran said he was feeling the toll and reached out to his service brothers and sisters and learned he wasn’t alone.

WAVE 3 News visited the Veterans Club of Kentucky, and learned social distancing is having a negative impact on the mental health of some veterans.

“Isolation in the veteran community is a killer,” said Jeremy Harrell, the CEO of the club.

However, such isolation is required because of the spread of COVID-19.

Harrell is a combat veteran and said he’s most concerned with the mental health of veterans who currently or could struggle with combat trauma, PTSD, suicidal thoughts or depression.

”Asking a veteran how they feel doesn’t result into much because we’re often told to suck it up and drive on,” Harrell said.

Veterans can find help in Harrell’s confidential Veterans Club Kentucky Facebook group, and its nearly 4,000 members.

“Another reason it hurts,” Harrell said. “I fought that stuff and was on the dark side for a long time.”

Harrell said he didn’t want other veterans to fight alone, and reached out to the group on social media.

“I posted this poll,” Harrell said. “I said, 'Hey, veteran club, which part of this COVID-19 process is hardest for you’.”

Some members of the group said their mental health was their main concern.

“A lot of anxiety, a lot of, ‘What am I going to do? How am I going to provide for my family, when is the day that I’m going to get laid off?'” Harrell said. "Or this is triggering my PTSD because the chaos of this is reminding me of combat?”

Army Reserve veteran Jonathan Sisco is self isolating to protect his girlfriend’s mom, while also trying to keep his real estate job amid financial uncertainty for his clients.

“I try and stay positive and think good thoughts and share that with other people,” Sisco said. “That’s what is going to get us through this pandemic."

Harrell said veterans need that connection, and some already struggle to reach out for help. At a time where we have to disconnect physically, connecting emotionally is a must for those who may be breaking down internally.

“Who is your one that you’re focused on that you want to check in on every day,” Harrell asked.

Don’t forget to check on your one. Maybe it’s a family member, neighbor, friend or a veteran.

If you’re a veteran and need support, call the Veterans Crisis Line at (800) 273-8255, and press 1.

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