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New group hopes to touch lives of veterans

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By Molly Haines

Owen County veterans could soon be getting some much needed help.

Hospice of the Bluegrass Frankfort recently received a grant, “Reaching Out,” funded by the Department of Veteran Affairs.

The focus of the grant is to support innovative programs committed to increasing access to hospice and care to ease pain for rural and homeless veterans.

According to the Hospice of the Bluegrass web site, the grant works in two ways. It supports specific, community-based programs, and the information gathered will assist the VA in discovering new ways of reaching out to veterans who are homeless or living in rural areas.

The amount of the grant is $30,000.

Hospice Professional Liaison Glenna Hughes said a veterans coalition was created within the community to improve availability, accessibility and acceptability of services for veterans who reside in isolated rural settings and to those who are homeless.

The local coalition includes Owen County Judge/Executive Carolyn Keith, Owenton Mayor David “Milkweed” Wotier, registered nurse at Three Rivers District Health Ruth Kingkade, and Owenton Manor Care and Rehab employee Stacie Shive.

There are also three Owen County veterans in the coalition.

Hughes said the coalition, with help from the grant, will be able to reach out to local veterans who are in need of help.

“Veterans need to know what’s out there for them,” Hughes said. “A lot of times in rural areas they’re not aware of the programs they are entitled to. This local coalition will help get the information out to them.”

The coalition has created a list of goals which will help get information to veterans.

The list of goals includes improving linkages between veterans and available services – which could include a directory of services for veterans available at the county level – distributing the directory to all coalition members, and a dinner for veterans in the community to distribute.

Goals also include increasing the aware of end-of-life care services for veterans by placing brochures in display racks in places like local libraries and churches and identifying all Hospice admissions who are veterans to assure special needs are met by integrating military history checklists as part of the admission procedure.

Hughes said the response from the Owen County coalition has been tremendous.

“The coalition is just amazing,” Hughes said. “They want to do something and they want to be involved. I’ve really enjoyed working with them. The whole point of this program is to increase awareness and educate veterans on what’s out there, and I believe this coalition will do a great job of getting that information out.”

Hughes said a free event for veterans will be held Sept. 23 to make veterans more aware of what’s going on in the community and what’s out there for them.

The event will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Owen County Extension Office.

Veterans may bring one guest to the event and enjoy a free meal provided by Sisterly Touch Catering. The featured speaker for the event will be former Miss America Heather French Henry.

To RSVP to the event, contact the Owen County Judge/Executive’s Office at (502) 484-3405 or Owenton City Hall at (502) 484-2322.