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Northern Kentucky Veteran Coalition helps local vets find help close to home

Posted: 7:14 PM, Nov 19, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-12 16:07:29Z

The physical distance dividing Ohio from Northern Kentucky is only a few thousand feet -- a drive of a minute or less, depending on traffic.

The cultural distance, according to National Guard family assistance specialist Robin Pruitt, is large enough to discourage many of her clients from making the journey even when life-saving resources could be on the other side. 

"It's a huge divide," she said. "Soldiers tell me all the time they go to the VA in Louisville instead of going to Cincinnati that is 20 minutes away."

Former Staff Sgt. John Bach, who served in the Vietnam War, admitted Ohio could sometimes seem like a foreign country to those who live south of the river. 

Even with the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center so close, Kentuckian veterans who need its help can feel underserved or simply lack knowledge of how it might help them. Interacting with large organizations to find help can be downright intimidating. 

That's why Pruitt collaborated with Army veteran Jesse Neack and Air Force veteran Rusty Mardis to create the Northern Kentucky Military Veteran Coalition, a networking organization meant to connect local veterans with the services they need through partnerships with over 62 nearby agencies. 

Some are in Ohio; most are in Kentucky.

"It's huge," Pruitt said. "There have been many times soldiers have come to me, and to be able to send and email to the coalition to say, ‘I'm looking for someone to help me with XYZ,' and get them the information they need right then."

Among those veterans was Bach, who turned to the coalition to help streamline the process of helping him find care. 

"I really thank them for what they did," he said.