PITTSBURG — VetLinks.org helps connect veterans, families and their caregivers with the resources they need.
Saturday was the organization’s annual KavFest, which featured a Links Fore Veterans golf tournament at Crestwood Country Club in Pittsburg. The purpose of this event is to raise funds to help the organization provide their services.
The organization was founded in 2016 by the late Maj. Brian Kavanagh and his wife, Jessica. Brian Kavanagh was a graduate of St. Mary’s-Colgan High School and Pittsburg State University. He was deployed several times to Iraq and Afghanistan and in 2015, he was evaluated as needing in-patient treatment for PTSD, but could not get the kind of help he needed through the VA system, his wife said.
After struggling with getting treatment through the VA, Kavanagh spoke with other veterans who had a similar story like his own. He decided to take action and help veterans, families and caregivers get the resources they needed.
VetLinks.org is now partnered with Code of Support, which is the “social work piece” of getting people the resources they need, Jessica Kavanagh said.
“No one was calling me back,” said Kavanagh, who tried to connect with resources for both her husband and herself with little success. “Now these people have this person, this resource, a peer navigator do this for them and take all that extra anxiety or strain to find your loved one and your self out of the picture.”
People can contact Code of Support and a peer navigator will go through a series of questions with that veteran or caregiver to address what they need and might not know that they need help with.
“They might realize there’s actually three or four things that they need,” Kavanagh said. “They find and get them a resource and VetLinks then pays for those resources.”
In June, Jessica, invited by Senator Jerry Moran, shared the story of her family’s tragedy and the creation of VetLinks during a testimony at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C.
“They really wanted me to testify to honor Brian and our family, and other families and caregivers,” she said. “They wanted me to talk about VetLinks and what it does in regards to helping where the VA isn't able to provide.
“I was honored to have had the opportunity in hopes that our story and can and will make a difference.
Kavanagh said her story is just one and there are still 20 suicides a day.
“The biggest thing we can do is to let them [veterans and caregivers] know there are resources available, there is help to be had,” she said.