Non-profit wants to ensure veterans are practicing social distancing, not social isolation

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Social distancing and avoiding unnecessary contact with other people are meant to keep you physically healthy, but they can have the opposite effect on you mentally, especially for those in the veteran community already dealing with PTSD, depression, and other mental health issues.

The Veteran's Club is a non-profit organization that works to connect veterans with each other and other services they might need.

"Isolation is a killer in the veteran community," Veteran's Club Founder and CEO Jeremy Harrell said. "It's something we fight every single day."

The Veteran's Club is a non-profit organization that works to connect veterans with each other and with other services they may need. While that can be difficult on any given day, the new social norms with COVID-19 add an extra challenge.

"When that social distancing directive came out, although I do agree with it, I was worried that that would be misinterpreted from veterans saying, 'I can't be around anybody, I can't stay connected'," Harrell said.

According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, 22 veterans commit suicide every day. That's a number the Veteran's Club doesn't want to see increase because of this COVID-19 situation.

"I asked our members what part of this process is the most fearful or what are you struggling with the most," Harrell said. "I suspected mental health, and it was by far, above food, above job loss, above finances."

They're now trying to use every platform they can to keep veterans plugged in mentally while maintaining a safe distance physically.

That includes a private Facebook page. It was used to stay up to date on upcoming events, but since those have been postponed, its focus now is to serve as a place for daily interactions between veterans.

"When I created Veteran's Club, this is what it was about," Harrell said. "It was about coming together in crisis and having people that you can rely on and totally understand the issues that veterans face that maybe some people don't understand."

If you are a veteran struggling, or you just want to connect with the Veteran's Club, click here for more information.