Concern grows for veterans with PTSD ahead of unprecedented Thunder Over Louisville plans

Concern grows for veterans with PTSD ahead of unprecedented Thunder Over Louisville plans

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Thunder Over Louisville will look and sound like no other occurrence in the event’s long-running past.

For many people, it’s generating excitement, especially after the event was canceled a year ago.

However, this year’s Thunder also is raising concern for veterans suffering from severe PTSD.

Veteran’s Club Founder and CEO Jeremy Harrell said Thunder Over Louisville is a spectacular event, but this year’s circumstances worry him.

Harrell said usually during Thunder Over Louisville, veterans know when and where to avoid, but it’s the uncertainty of this year’s event that causes him some concern.

“Historically, veterans felt like, as long as (they’re) not at the waterfront (they’re) good to go, and (they) know what’s occurring there,” Harrell said. “But this year, there’s undisclosed locations. That word ‘undisclosed’ is a triggering word.”

The Kentucky Derby Festival said the undisclosed locations are a way for people to still experience Thunder Over Louisville during a pandemic.

“You’ll still be able to feel and hear it just like if it were on the waterfront,” KDF President Matt Gibson said back in March, “but it’s going to be from a safe and undisclosed location.”

Harrell said he believes not everyone wants to hear it like they’re on the Waterfront. However, he still wants veterans to be able to enjoy the popular Thunder events.

”We want them to enjoy the fruits of their labor,” Harrell said. “We want them to enjoy the fact that they fought for us to be able to celebrate these things.”

Harrell is launching an awareness campaign for veterans. He suggested they try to enjoy the fireworks, but if they can’t that’s OK. They can call the Veteran’s Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or even call the Veteran’s Club directly at (502) 487-1464.

In the meantime, Harrell said to remember why the event is taking place and why it’s able to take place at all.

“We don’t want it to look like we want things to stop because we have these struggle and challenges, because that’s not what we fought for people to enjoy it,” Harrell said.

If you do feel like you need help, or if you feel like you may cause harm to yourself or others, learn the numbers to call beforehand.

Thunder Over Louisville is April 17.

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