Army Veteran Blair Day says he has friends he served with who need help but don’t know how to ask for it or don’t know who to ask.
And “some of my friends won’t get help,” Day said.
That’s why he believes the Veterans Day Horses for Heroes event at Rolling Hills Equestrian club—and other events like it—are so necessary.
It was a day in which veterans, as well as police, EMT and fire department officers, could take their families to see the horses, take a hayride and eat good barbecue. But it was also a day in which help and resources were offered for those who may not know where to turn.
Day, who was a part of the 3d Battalion 187th Infantry out of Fort Campbell, said some of the friends he served with are struggling now. Many, he said, just want someone to talk to without feeling like they’re being judged.
Several tables were set up at Horses for Heroes for that very reason—to spread the word that they want to help without judgment.
Mark Orr, an adult peer support specialist with River Valley Behavioral Health’s mobile crisis team, was there to spread the word about dialing ‘988.’ It’s a new service in Henderson in which mobile crisis intervention teams arrive to help a person in danger, including mental health, suicide risk and other crises. He said there are six mobile crisis teams that serve Daviess and Henderson counties.
After calling 988, a mobile crisis team will come to them and provide therapy on the spot, Orr said. He said a caller has the choice to leave with the mobile crisis team for further assistance.
Orr, who was in the military for five years, said he’s gone through tough times since he left, including battles with addiction and that’s a help when he meets those in crisis.
“You’re just like me,” he said he tells people he meets in crisis. “And I’m here for you.”
“We meet them where they’re at,” he said.
The Henderson County Public Library was also there to spread awareness of its “Coffee With a Vet” program. On the second Monday of each month, veterans meet at 10 a.m. to talk together about any topic, but also topics that only other veterans may understand, said Donna Spencer, a library employee who was at the event.
Spencer was also giving information out about veteran stars—with photos of family veterans—that can be placed on the library Christmas tree for free.
Also on this resource row were representatives of the Kentucky Dept. of Veterans Affairs. Johnny Allen, who works in the Madisonville office, said there are some 300,000 veterans in Kentucky, and the state department of veterans affairs represents just 30,000. They help veterans get services and benefits. Oftentimes it’s assistance veterans don’t know they are eligible for, Allen said.
Also there was Infinite Hope, a local startup that works to prevent suicide and also assists with families of someone who’s died by suicide.
Day, a Virginia native who moved here with his wife, a native to Henderson, after getting out of the military, said the event signals respect to veterans and their sacrifices.
“This is a wonderful thing they’re doing,” he said.