TAYLORSVILLE, Ky. — All over the state, Kentuckians celebrated Derby Day in their own ways and with looser COVID-19 restrictions. For veterans and military families, they savored every moment they spent together.

“The grill firing up, people out there petting the horses, sharing the meal together, it’s the reclaiming of that community,” said Will Creasman, a 10-year army veteran.

Creasman, other veterans and their families enjoyed the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at a Taylorsville ranch. Jeremy Harrell, the founder of Veteran’s Club, said the families that attended were excited to break bread and share some laughs on Saturday.

“To have this be the first Saturday in May and to be able to celebrate with less restrictions. The Governor just put out that 1,000 or less can be outdoors and you don’t have to mask up,” Harrell said. “I think people are really taking advantage of this. It is really needed in the community."

Creasman serves a special role within Veteran’s Club as a licensed therapist. He said the past year was tough on vets especially with one of the biggest challenges to veterans’ mental health being isolation. Creasman explained that just being able to sit across from someone and catch up can do wonders for a person’s mental state.

“Start being around our brothers and our sisters and coming out of that shell again. It’s very beneficial because a lot of these folks have spent the past year trying to meet the guidelines and do what they are supposed to and it’s almost like that anticipated exhale,” he said. 

Creasman said that the Derby’s return to the first Saturday in May gave the entire state a chance to enjoy our beloved traditions and create memories with  loved ones.

“To see people posting pictures of their get-togethers whether it be a barbecue or a Derby party it’s nice to see the joy of getting back together and enjoying each other,” Creasman said. “We can do this. Life can return to normalcy and I think that’s given a lot of veterans hope and bringing them back out again."

Besides Saturday’s event, Veteran’s Club offers other programs like equine therapy sessions, family barbecues, and Camaraderie and Coffee socials.