Lady Veterans Connect hosts event to end veteran suicide

Published 3:45 pm Monday, October 2, 2023

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Staff Report

Winchester nonprofit Lady Veterans Connect (LVC) partnered with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and Philip Morris International (PMI) and hosted an event dedicated to ending veteran suicide on Friday in Lexington.

Kentucky has over 35,000 active duty military members and 312,000 veterans, including nearly 27,000 female veterans. Sadly, many struggle with mental health issues.

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From 2017-2021, an average of 629 Kentucky veterans committed suicide every year. Veteran suicide increased by 25 percent in the first quarter of 2023, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Defense.

“Our brave service members and veterans face many hardships throughout and following their service. Sadly, veterans struggle with suicide ideation at much higher rates than the general public, and this epidemic is even more prevalent amongst women veterans,” said Col. Steve Parker.

Parker is the director of the U.S. Army Fires Center and reminded the audience of the necessity of providing resources for veterans struggling with mental health issues.

“By providing resources and support and helping recognize the characteristics of a veteran struggling with suicidal ideation are vital steps in preventing the tragic loss of a life that has already sacrificed so much in service to their country,” Parker said.

LVC founder and executive director Phyllis Abbot echoed Parker’s words

“Our courageous veterans often carry the weight of their experiences long after their military service has ended, and the signs of suicidal characteristics are complex and often go unnoticed,” Abbot said. That’s why we’ve joined here today to create connections, empower through community, and spread awareness that they are not alone. It is essential that we leverage the available resources and support services to help veterans find hope and healing in their lives once again.”

Attendees attended numerous breakout sessions during the event and heard from guest speakers.

One of them was veteran Bruce Simpson, who survived a suicide attempt.

“I am grateful to have another chance. Not everybody attempting suicide gets one. I have witnessed the wreckage a suicide attempt can have on one’s family and friends. It is gut-wrenching,” Simpson said. “Before all this, I had been highly skeptical of counseling’s efficacy. I was convinced that by sheer willpower, anyone could conquer what I thought were merely, ‘emotional problems.’ I was wrong. Competent counseling combined with appropriate medication is immensely helpful.”

LVC provides high-quality, comprehensive services to assist female veterans and prevent homelessness. For more information about LVC’s efforts, to get involved, or to donate, visit