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Kentucky Veterans Honored for "Still Serving"

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Friday, November 11, 2022   

Two military veterans were honored this week for their community service at the Kentucky Veterans of the Year annual banquet, hosted by the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana.

Brownsville resident Mike Stoyonovich and Jo Ann Orr of Louisville each received a 2022 Veteran of the Year award. Guest speaker and the first Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame inductee, the Rev. Dr. James Thurman, said many veterans return home after honorable service only to see their fellow veterans struggling to meet basic needs. He said homelessness continues to be a top issue among vets.

"What really prompted me was to see those veterans on the street, sleeping in cardboard boxes and begging for food," said Thurman, coordinator with Kentucky State Veterans and a volunteer for AARP Kentucky. "After having served their nation, it just didn't seem right to me."

Kentucky veterans without shelter should call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 877-424-3838 for assistance. Those without phone or internet access can visit their closest VA medical center. According to the Housing Assistance Council, military veterans make up nearly 8% of Kentucky's population.

Advocacy groups across the state also are working to increase suicide-prevention resources. A 2019 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that on average, 17 veterans a day chose to end their lives. Thurman said he wants them to know there is support available. He encouraged them to research local chapters of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

"We work with all of those organizations to help file claims for veterans," he said. "We work with homeless veterans. And here in the City of Lexington, we even formed a Veterans Service Commission."

This year, AARP also launched a new publication, called Veteran Report, that aims to raise awareness about issues facing vets and their families.

Disclosure: AARP Kentucky contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues, Senior Issues, Urban Planning/Transportation. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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