LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Social distancing is an important safeguard against COVID-19. However, a veteran group is trying to make sure veterans don’t fall into the habit of isolating themselves.
“Our concern in the veteran community is isolation because that’s the one thing we fight against everyday as we try to reduce the amount of veteran suicide,” said Jeremy Harrell, the founder and CEO of the Veteran’s Club.
Harrell and the Veteran’s Club have built a network of support for Kentucky veterans through programming efforts like equine therapy, warrior yoga, and other social events. Harrell had to put those programs on hold because of coronavirus concerns, but aims to stay connected in other ways.
“Isolation is a killer in our community specifically for those who are struggling with depression, PTSD, and suicidal thoughts,” said Harrell.
Dr. Sarah Johnson, the chief medical director at Landmark Recovery, recommends that groups who are predisposed to depression shouldn’t hesitate to seek out help.
“They should reach out to healthcare providers because many places are finding innovative ways to interact with patients and to continue to provide are in a social distance way,” said Dr. Johnson.
Harrell and the Veteran’s Club have a private Facebook group with around 3500 veterans. Harrell hopes other veterans who aren’t already in the group request to join.
“The good news is that we have so many platforms that we can use,” said Harrell. “We got Zoom, Skype, and social media. We got to make sure we reach out and make sure they don’t get disconnected because that’s not a good thing.”
The Facebook group has helped in the past with veterans who have sought out help from others. Harrell said so far the group has pitched in to help veterans who are the most at risk for coronavirus connect with other members for help.
Dr. Johnson recommended for people who are following social distancing protocol find a routine. It’ll help establish a new normal as well as to quell anxiety.
Harrell said he is making the most of this situation. He said the positive in this is spending more quality time with his family.
“We can use this as opportunity to reconnect with your families,” said Harrell. “Take advantage of it.”