PITTSBURG — A bunch of children were out in the sun selling lemonade last week to raise money for a charity.

When asked what they were up to, the children said they were raising money for VetLinks, a nonprofit organization which provides veterans and their families “links” to resources which include reintegration programs, caregiver resource directory, coaching service, family service and more.  

To help subsidize the costs for the care of post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and substance use disorder, VetLinks will be hosting its annual Kav Fest, a four person scramble which will tee off at 1:45 p.m. on Aug. 11 at Crestwood Country Club in honor of Maj. Brian Kavanagh. After the tournament there will be live music and celebration at 9 p.m. at McCarthy’s.

Retired Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc will be guest speaker during this year’s event. Bolduc, serves on the VetLinks board of directors and “has been one of the leading advocates for military veterans and is dedicated to eliminating the stigma associated with PTSD and mental health problems,” a release said.

After learning about other veterans needs and struggles and his own — including finding care for PTSD and a traumatic brain injury — Kavanagh came up with the charity. His wife, Jessica, said while he was in inpatient care he met other veterans and heard about their difficulties getting the care they needed. VetLinks was his way of helping his fellow veterans.

Kavanagh died unexpectedly in 2016 at the age of 37, leaving behind a wife, Jessica, and daughters, five-year-old Meryn and three-year-old Evelyn. He was a graduate of St. Mary’s-Colgan High School and Pittsburg State University. Kavanagh received multiple Bronze Stars from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He and his family sought help for his injuries, however, his wife said what was offered wasn’t enough and wasn’t a good fit for her husband.

Brian Kavanagh’s friend, Lt. Col. Kirk Duncan said there were gaps in the Veteran Affairs which Kavanagh was searching for and he was hoping to fill for others.

“There were a lack of options and timeliness,” Duncan said. “It was just not an effective regimen for his personal healing.”

Jessica Kavanagh said there is a problem with the number of veterans who have died of suicide and she believes the its over the 22 deaths per day the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reported, she said.

Duncan said watching his friend’s health decline was difficult and said there was a lack of responsive and effective treatment options, especially after he had left active duty.

“I had this realization the care we receive on active duty is nowhere near the care veterans receive and in some locations worse than others,” he said.

The Kavanagh family and friends have collected resources and made them available online for all to see.

“Ultimately, we would love to be out of the business of helping veterans,” Jessica Kavanagh said. She said until the VA can provide veterans with the same level of care as on active duty they will continue to the charity.


KavFest Charity Golf Tournament information

Registration begins at noon at Crestwood Country Club.

The member-guest golf tournament will tee off at 1:45 p.m.

Cost for the event is $125 per golfer or $500 for a team.

Spots are still available and can be reserved by going to bit.ly/Kavfest2018.

The price of entry includes green fee, cart rental, lunch, and one drink. Payments can be made through Eventbrite.com or by mail with a registration sheet to Ryan Insurance; Attn: Katie Swezey; P.O. Box 106; Pittsburg, KS 66762. Registration forms are due by Aug. 8.

Email questions to kswezey@ryaninsurance.net. Corporate sponsorship opportunities also are available.

Following the golf tournament, VetLinks will host the third annual Kav Fest at McCarthy’s Pub, 221 E. 3 rd St. in Pittsburg. In addition to serving as a fundraiser, the annual event is a celebration of life for VetLinks founder Maj. Brian Kavanagh. Live music will be provided by the J3 band.

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.