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Community park helps veterans who may be struggling with mental health

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 8:06 PM EST
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Pikeville VFW Post #3769 along with the city of Pikeville, businesses, and other donors came together to build the Pikeville Veteran’s Memorial Park in 2018. A place for vets to relax or find some help, but also a place for the community to enjoy and pay their respects to those who served the country.

“This is a community park, the community should come here,” said Quartermaster and Post Service Officer at VFW Post #3769 in Pikeville, Darian Hylton. “This is also a park for veterans. It is a non-intrusive coping mechanism for veterans suffering from PTSD.”

In 2020, the park got a bit of an upgrade as a jet was placed near the shelter, but work continues to be done as a retaining wall and “keep off” signs were recently placed. The park and the jet are part of the VFW post’s community outreach and are there as a way to help veterans connect with the post and reach out for help if needed.

“It’s allowed to post to reach out to the veteran population in the county that hasn’t reached us before,” said Hylton.

In 2019, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) reported that more than 6,200 veterans took their own lives, around 17 per day. Nearly 100 of those that chose to take their own lives were Kentuckians and a majority of them were between the ages 35 and 75.

“We’re trying to reach a target audience that’s been trained that the good of your organization is what matters,” said Hylton, “and individually you may matter, you may not, but if you have problems then you’re weak, but that’s not the case.”

The VA also reported there were nearly 400 fewer suicides in 2019 when compared to 2018, but Pikeville’s VFW post is hoping to reduce the veteran suicide rate in Kentucky by having places for vets to reach out for help.

“Veterans that need to talk more, we’ll listen more,” said Hylton. “When they’re talking to me up here at Pikeville Veterans Memorial Park, I’ll talk as long as they need to talk. Whether it be 20 minutes or two hours.”

Hylton also said if a veteran or family of a veteran would like to talk with someone at VFW Post #3769 in Pikeville to direct message the Post’s Facebook page. Hylton said the post can also assist with VA benefits and much more.

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