SHELBYVILLE, Ky. — When Jeremy Harrell started Veteran’s Club four years ago, he wanted to make veterans like himself feel able, connected and understood.
However, the work he’s put in to help more than 2,300 veterans is now radiating out into the greater community.
"Let's get together. Let's formalize a plan. Let's go where people are hurting and let's do the most good that we can," he said.
After the tornadoes struck their home state the second week of December, members of the Veteran’s Club immediately began to organize. They started making phone calls, got together hundreds of thousands of dollars of supplies, found flat-bed trucks, and deployed a few hours away to the Mayfield, Kentucky area.
"This is really why we do what we do in these moments. It's not when things are okay. We kick in with things are not," said Harrell.
By handing out supplies, helping rebuild and being an ear to those who lost everything, it not only helped the victims of the storms, but it also helped the vets take advantage of their skills from the military.
"What it did for the veterans and the community to come alongside as it go, 'Wait a minute, maybe everything I learned in military, wasn't a negative. Wow. This was really cool, what we were able to do as a team!' We just felt like we were qualified to step in immediately," he said.
“Stepping in” is something Veteran’s Club has been doing since it began. After being told his physical and mental scars from serving in Iraq would prevent him from leading the life he wanted to, he started building a community that would prove them wrong.
"I'm just going to make sure that people know that that's not the case, that you can do anything you want to do with the proper amount of support and the determination," he said.
From equine therapy, to tiny homes for veterans without a roof over their head, to seeing a need for a female veteran-specific program. Harrell aims to be the light at the end of any long stretch of darkness others like him might find themselves in.
As we approach the new year, the organization has plans to continue to grow and to serve, both the veteran population and their neighbors in need. He encourages any veteran who may not have found their community to know that there is always a place for you in theirs.
"Find a group of people who are doing what you're passionate about and all these things that have been holding you back and all the lies that you've been told about what you can and can't do, they will fall away," said Harrell.