Groups bring awareness to critical veterans issues on Veterans D - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Groups bring awareness to critical veterans issues on Veterans Day

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville non-profits are working to bring attention to some of the most challenging obstacles facing veterans on Veterans Day.

Active Heroes is holding a 20-hour march in Jeffersontown Veterans Memorial Park to highlight the staggering suicide rate among veterans.

“Back in 2013, the VA came out with a study -- 22 veterans a day were committing suicide. The new number earlier this year, that number was revised down to 20,” said Scott Bruzek with Active Heroes.

Volunteers continue marching on a one-mile loop throughout the night.

Sgt. First Class Paul Smith is taking part in the event. He has lost friends to suicide and wants more veterans to know they are not alone.

“It’s hard to deal with life, the struggles you had in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Smith, who is stationed at Fort Knox. "Then you have drugs and alcohol that bring you down even further, and the next thing you know, you’re out of the streets."

Centerstone military services tries to help veterans and active military get the support they need.   

“We want to make sure that when our veterans come home, that they have the ability to get housing, that we all work collaboratively to make sure that nobody falls through the cracks,” said Gwen Cooper with Centerstone Kentucky.  

Employment programs and housing can make a significant impact, but the group says funding for veterans programs can be hard to find.

“You would think that we all could just embrace our veterans and provide the treatment and provide the services that they need, but we have to make sure that funding is available,” Gwen said.

Smith says while progress is being made, more needs to be done to who those who have served.    

“We need to do a better job of taking care of our vets, and I think it starts with getting them jobs and not forgetting about them,” Smith said.

The march runs throughout the night until noon on Saturday at Jeffersontown Veterans Memorial Park.

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