Louisville Veteran’s Club shares importance of mental health assistance after veteran dies in JPD shooting

Louisville Veteran's Club CEO Jeremy Harrell gives insight on the importance of mental health help for veterans after the Jeffersonville PD shooting.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 7:13 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - 41% of veterans have a mental health need, according to government data.

Questions surrounding mental health services for veterans are top of mind after Jeffersonville Police shot and killed 44-year old Robert Adkins earlier this month.

Police said Adkins was a veteran who struggled with mental health and likely substance abuse.

Veterans Club CEO Jeremy Harrell said their goal is to be proactive with their services because they want to help as many veterans as possible, before it’s too late.

This body camera footage shows the moments before Robert Adkins was shot by Jeffersonville Police Officers.

Officers said Adkins had fired his gun and was walking towards them with the weapon as they tried to de-escalate the situation.

Adkins died later from his injuries.

Adkins’ family said he was a military veteran who struggled with mental health and substance abuse.

That struggle is something that Veterans Club said is way too common.

“They go through things and they’re trying to process all these things they experience and often times it becomes overwhelming and creates issues,” Veteran’s Club CEO Jeremy Harrell said. “Especially if a veteran has experienced trauma.”

Harrell said this is why they’re proactive in their efforts to help veterans.

With services like equine facilitated mentoring, vocational training and even recreational events, Harrell said they’re looking to do life together with other vets.

“Veterans helping veterans is the most effective way because we know the language and there is no judgement because we understand what happens and we understand what that person had to go through to deal with these things,” Harrell said.

Harrell said veterans like Adkins deserve to get the best quality help and be around other veterans who know what mental battles they fight each day.

He also said that veterans struggling with mental health can be more deadly than service members in combat.

“You know since 9/11 there have been a little over 7,000 military service members that have died in combat,” Harrell said. “But post 9/11 there have been more than 30,000 service members who have died by suicide.”

Jeffersonville Police Chief Kenny Kavanaugh echoed this sentiment, and said veterans mental health deserves more attention.

“We have to look at mental health. The crisis and situation of what we have,” Kavanaugh said. “We have to look at how we can better take care of our veterans and make sure that when we return them to society, we are doing everything in our capacity to be able to support them for serving our county and making the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms and our liberties.”

For Harrell, this also includes first responders as he says the constant reach for perfection, especially during trauma, is unrealistic.

“And if we want good police officers, good first responders in our community, then we need to take care of them,” Harrell said.

Harrell said their services are available to all military veterans and as of last year, all first responders.

If anyone would like to help, free suicide prevention training is available for anyone to learn.