Serving Veterans in the Commonwealth

That is our mission, our job, and our privilege. We work every day to make sure Kentucky's 295,000 veterans and their families receive all the benefits and services they have earned. Here you will find information on benefits counseling, skilled long-term care at state veterans centers, dignified interment at state veterans cemeteries, health care, education, employment and special programs for women veterans, homeless veterans and others. 

Suicide Prevention Month
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. However, combating the nation’s tenth leading cause of death is not a 30-day observation, but a 24/7, 365-day team effort. More than a year ago, Gov. Andy Beshear launched his Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide. He created a team of experts from multiple agencies across state government to develop best practices, standard operations procedures and prevention techniques.

KDVA is a motivated member of the Governor’s Challenge and is committed to preventing suicide among veterans. We would like you to be part of team and support the effort.

There are things you can do to help prevent veteran suicide. Learn the risk factors, warning signs and protective factors here.

And be sure the veterans you know keep the VA Crisis Hotline number handy: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

From the Military Times, Nov. 2020:

The rate of suicide among veterans ticked upwards in recent years despite increased public attention and funding on the problem, according to a new report released by Department of Veterans Affairs officials on Thursday.

However, the latest data still lags two years behind present conditions and does not include any figures from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which mental health experts have warned may be causing even larger increases in the rates of mental distress and self harm among veterans.

The suicide report — which is typically released in early October, but was delayed more than a month this year — shows the rate of suicide among veterans at 17.6 a day in 2018. That’s a slight increase from 2017, when the number was 17.5.

From 2005 to 2018, the overall suicide rate has remained largely unchanged, between 17 and 18 veterans a day. That’s in spite of numerous public awareness campaigns, VA outreach programs and new department training mandates enacted over the last two presidential administrations.

Veterans suicides made up about 14 percent of total suicides in America in 2018. VA officials have emphasized in recent years that mental health challenges and suicidal thoughts are not a problem specific to the veterans community.

“Findings documented in this report highlight the continuing and increasing problem of suicide among U.S. adults and among veterans, and the need for ongoing efforts to improve methods of suicide risk mitigation,” the report stated.


“This report offers data points that suicide is indeed preventable through clinically based and community-based prevention efforts and interventions, as well as through research and surveillance within and beyond the VA,” the report authors wrote.

“Yet this report also elucidates that while suicide is preventable, suicide and suicide prevention are extremely complex.”

As we honor the legacy of our fallen comrades today, please remember the price of freedom is often paid in blood on foreign battlefields, and at times, unfortunately, here at home. Let us ensure the payment made is never wasted and always serves as an investment for a guaranteed security for future Americans in generations to come.

Again, there are things you can do to help prevent veteran suicide. Learn the risk factors, warning signs and protective factors here.

And be sure the veterans you know keep the VA Crisis Hotline number handy: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

For a Better Kentucky.
Whitney P. Allen
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA

Patriot Day
I was proud today to welcome everyone to Kentucky’s flagship State Veterans Cemetery, KVCCentral here in Radcliff for the Fort Knox Cadet Command 9/11 Memorial Ceremony.

Since opening in June 2007, KVCC has interred more than 7,000 veterans and their dependents. These veterans served our nation faithfully either as defenders of freedom during times of war, or sentinels during times of peace.

KVCC is also the first Kentucky State Veterans Cemetery to receive a piece of the World Trade Towers for its 9/11 Monument. You can see it on the grounds here.

Veterans interred here include three service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. One hundred and fifteen of Kentucky’s own died in the War on Terror. Their names and hometowns are kept in our document Lest We Forget, which you can read on our website,

It is fitting that we recognize the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack that began the War on Terror in the same month that we completed the withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending the longest war in our history.

And it is fitting that we do so here, in a State Veterans Cemetery that for generations to come will serve as a tangible part of history that youngsters can learn first-hand.

As we honor the legacy of our fallen comrades today, please remember the price of freedom is often paid in blood on foreign battlefields, and at times, unfortunately, here at home. Let us ensure the payment made is never wasted and always serves as an investment for a guaranteed security for future Americans in generations to come.

For a Better Kentucky.
Whitney P. Allen
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA

KDVA Community Outreach

On April 12th, The leadership staff of KDVA had the pleasure of hosting a virtual event to spread awareness of who we are and what we do. Please take a moment to watch the video to see what programs we offer that may assist you.

For more videos about KDVA and how we serve veterans, subscribe to the KDVA YouTube Channel:

For a Better Kentucky.

Keith Jackson
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA

National Vietnam Veterans Day
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Monday is National Vietnam Veterans Day. We had hoped that by that date we would be able to hold a public event honoring Kentucky’s 90,000 Vietnam Veterans.

Unfortunately, we have not quite beaten the COVID-19 virus back to the point of allowing large public events.

But we do have a video from Governor Andy Beshear recognizing and honoring our Vietnam Veterans. He also encourages all Kentuckians to seek out the Vietnam Veterans in their communities and thank them for their service.

Kentucky’s Vietnam Veterans live and work in every part of the Commonwealth. They are still serving by serving their communities.

We continue to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. That Commemoration began on Memorial Day in 2012. It continues through Memorial Day 2025.

Be sure to thank the families of Vietnam Veterans for their sacrifices. And thank the friends and supporters of Vietnam Veterans for their patriotism.

For a Better Kentucky.

Keith Jackson
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA


The Kentucky Department of Veterans would like to wish the American Legion a Happy 102nd Birthday!!! It was on this day in 1919, members of the United States American Expeditionary Force convened its first Legion Caucus in the city of Paris. Much as the birthday of the United States is celebrated on July 4th, – March 15th is revered by generations of veterans for it is the date on which the Legion came to life. In Kentucky, there are over 100 American Legion Post, Auxiliary, SAL Squadron, and ALR Chapters who promote the organization and its programs by enhancing the lives of our Veterans, Military, and their families. Again, thank you, American Legion for what you do for veterans and families. We wish you many, many more years of success and as a staple of our American communities.

Honoring Kentucky Veteran Willa Brown in Women's History Month
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You’ve probably heard of the Tuskegee Airmen, but if it weren’t for the aviation training conducted by Glasgow, Kentucky native Willa Brown, they might never have existed.

From Wikipedia:

Willa Beatrice Brown (January 22, 1906 – July 18, 1992) was an American aviator, lobbyist, teacher, and civil rights activist. She was the first African American woman to earn a pilot's license in the United States, the first African American woman to run for the United States Congress, first African American officer in the Civil Air Patrol, and the first woman in the U.S. to have both a pilot's license and an aircraft mechanic's license.

She was a lifelong advocate for gender and racial equality in the field of aviation as well as in the military. She not only lobbied the U.S. government to integrate the United States Army Air Corps and include African Americans in the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP), she and Cornelius Coffey co-founded the Coffey School of Aeronautics, distinguishing it as the first private flight training academy owned and operated by African Americans in the United States. She trained hundreds of pilots, several of whom went on to become Tuskegee Airmen; the creation of the Tuskegee Airmen has been credited to Brown's training efforts.

Brown remained politically and socially active in Chicago long after the Coffey School closed in 1945. She ran in Congressional primary elections in 1946 and 1950 and taught in the Chicago Public School System until 1971 when she retired at age 65. Following her retirement, she served on the Federal Aviation Administration's Women's Advisory Committee until 1974. 

Kentucky women have served in the U.S. Armed Forces from their beginning. I am pleased and proud to recognize one of the most accomplished, Willa Beatrice Brown, this 2021 Women’s History Month.

For a Better Kentucky.

Keith Jackson
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA

Brig. Gen. Charles Young Commemoration

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One year ago today, on Feb. 11, 2020, Gov. Andy Beshear posthumously promoted Col. Charles Young to the rank of Brigadier General.

In commemoration of that event, KDVA and many partners collaborated on a video honoring Col. Young, his accomplishments, his struggles, and the legacy he leaves for Kentucky's Black Veterans today.

 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

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In 1994, Congress declared the Martin Luther King Jr. National Holiday to be a National Day of Service, the only federal holiday to be so designated. A “Day ON,” not a day off.

From AmeriCorps: ‘This day of service helps to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, address social problems, and move us closer to Dr. King's vision of a "Beloved Community." ‘

And for 26 years, people around the nation have devoted that day to volunteer in their communities, to serve the memory and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by serving others.

“The MLK Day of Service inspires hundreds of thousands of Americans to come together to serve their community. Citizens in all 50 states deliver meals, refurbish schools and community centers, and collect food and clothing. Volunteers also recruit mentors, support jobseekers, build homes and provide other services for veterans and military families, and help citizens improve their financial literacy skills. Our nation’s leaders including congressional members, governors, and mayors honor Dr. King’s legacy through service projects while addressing pressing community needs.

” Dr. King recognized the power of service. He famously said, "Everyone can be great because everybody can serve." Observing the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday through service is a way to begin each year with a commitment to making your community a better place. Your service honors Dr. King's life and teachings and helps meet community challenges. Service also brings people together of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. The MLK Day of Service encourages all types of service, particularly projects that have a lasting impact and connect participants to ongoing service. The most successful projects connect to the life and teaching of Dr. King, meet a pressing community need, and include time to reflect on his teachings.”

This year, after 11 months of a pandemic that stretched the meaning of “community” to the breaking point, you can still perform volunteer service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the time of COVID-19.

You can plan events that are virtual in part or entirely or events that require only a few people – masked! - and allow for full distancing.

Learn more at this link:

For a Better Kentucky.

Keith Jackson
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA

  Make This a New Year of Hope and Renewal

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We made it. We survived the greatest public health threat in a century and saw the life-saving vaccine given to our Veterans at Thomson-Hood Veterans Center.

COVID-19 took from us almost more than we could bear. Not just our fallen loved ones, but our lives in our neighborhoods, our schools, our communities. It’s not over; COVID-19 is not defeated, but now we have the advantage in this fight.

And with minutes of sunlight increasing every day, we can see clearly how to move forward in a soon-to-be pandemic-free world.

Let’s plan for a year of honoring and recognizing veterans at public events we had to curtail in 2020. Vietnam Veterans Day. Honor Flights. Memorial Day. Veterans Week. Wreaths Across America.

Let’s plan for a year of visiting veterans in person in our State Veterans Homes to make up for a year of waving from outside windows.

Let’s plan for a year of reaching out to others with handshakes and hugs after a year of masking and distancing and isolating.

Let’s plan for a year of working toward a Better Kentucky.

Charlie Pierce said it best:
May you all have the rest and peace of this mid-winter holiday season. Nollaig shona, as my grandmother would say. May all your (hot chocolate) be mellow and may all your lights shine. And may there always be a candle in the window, calling you home, calling you out of the storm, calling all of us home, together, and home.

For a Better Kentucky.

Keith Jackson
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA

Army Private First Class Norris Hardison had her sights on the COVID-19 vaccine from the start.

When news broke of the first local COVID-19 vaccine trials a few months ago, PFC Hardison requested help signing up to be a participant in a COVID-19 vaccine trial she had seen on the news. “I am not afraid,” she told THVC staff. “I want to be a part of this trial to help make sure it is safe for my family and my grandchildren, as well as for the staff who take care of me here at Thomson-Hood.” Unfortunately, PFC Hardison was not selected as a participant in the vaccine clinical trials. But throughout quarantine, she has continued to follow news stories about vaccine development and was overjoyed to hear of its recent approval. “I want to be first in line!” she shouted. “I want everyone to see me take it and know that is safe. Every single person should get this vaccine. I have been talking to my family, and even my daughter, who is afraid of needles, is going to take it. It’s the best way to protect us all from this COVID virus and I am just so happy that it’s finally here. ”

“We cannot overlook how fortunate we are to have a vaccine against this virus, and so soon after it was identified,” said Governor Andy Beshear. “Science, technology, human ingenuity, and personal dedication got us within sight of the end, and they will get us home safely.”

For more than seven months, the staff and families of veterans at Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore seemed to be holding their breath. Every day, more cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes and more deaths of nursing home residents in Kentucky filled the news. Yet somehow, THVC had been spared.

Until September 12. One veteran tested positive. But the invisible and insidious nature of this new virus turned one case to a dozen before you could hardly blink. Then 50, then 80. And then the veterans started dying.

“In 30 years of working in long-term care facilities, I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Mark Bowman, executive director of the Office of Kentucky Veterans Centers.

As the virus escalated, so did the battle against it. For staff, it was personal. These veterans were family. Everybody from Dr. Scott and her nursing staff working through heavy PPE in the COVID unit, to housekeeping staff cleaning and disinfecting nonstop, to foodservice providing in-room meals, to maintenance transforming double rooms to singles to keep veterans well separated – all were fighting. They took on double shifts as fellow staffers fell into quarantine. They held themselves together to comfort in their last moments' veterans they had cared for and laughed with for years.

And though the casualties were almost more than they could bear, they won. They beat the virus back just in time for vaccines to arrive. Today, PFC Hardison became the first veteran in a state veterans center to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 
Ninety veterans and more than 100 staff were vaccinated at THVC Dec. 22.pdf Vaccinations are tentatively scheduled for January 9 at Western Kentucky Veterans Center in Hanson and vaccinations at Eastern Kentucky Veterans Center in Hazard and Radcliff Veterans Center will follow soon after.

“I cannot say enough about the staff at all four of our State Veterans Centers,’ said Keith Jackson, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs. “Their fearless dedication to our veterans throughout this ordeal is no less than we expect of them, but it still leaves me in awe.”

For a Better Kentucky.

Keith Jackson
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA

 National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

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On July 16, Kentucky lost its last Pearl Harbor survivor: Albert Patrick, 101 years old.

Last year, the community of Salyersville celebrated Patrick’s 100th birthday, when he was one of four remaining Pearl Harbor survivors in the nation.

Today there are only two left, both of them 98 years old.

Seventy-nine years later, the name “Pearl Harbor” still sends chills up the spine of even people born decades after the event.

“On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service attacked Naval Station Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii Territory, without warning and without a declaration of war, killing 2,403 American servicemen and civilians, and injuring 1,178 others. The attack sank four U.S. Navy battleships and damaged four others. It also damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, and one minelayer. Aircraft losses were 188 destroyed and 159 damaged.”

It was a surprise attack on a nation then at peace. It was intended by the Japanese to be a devastating first strike, from which the U.S. could not recover.

“Canada declared war on Japan within hours of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the first Western nation to do so. On December 8, the United States declared war on Japan and entered World War II on the side of the Allies. In a speech to Congress, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called the bombing of Pearl Harbor "a date which will live in infamy." “

Instead of collapsing, the U.S. rallied and rose to battle. Instead of delivering defeat, Pearl Harbor became the event that led to Allied victory in World War II and global U.S. leadership after the war.
It is a tribute to both American power and American peace-making that both Japan and Germany, the defeated Axis nations, are two of our strongest allies today.

But America emerged victorious not just on the battlefield. For four years, Americans suffered restrictions and rationing here at home. To have to endure that, after a decade of severe privation during the Great Depression, must have seemed more than anyone could stand.
We did stand it. We gave up driving because the troops needed the tire rubber and the steel and the gasoline. We grew Victory Gardens and canned everything. We saved every scrap, went without, endured Thanksgivings and Christmases without loved ones.

We did it year after hard year because every sacrifice meant saving the lives of the troops fighting overseas.
On December 7, remember Albert Patrick and his fellow survivors, remember the 2,403 fallen, remember that at our lowest point in the 20th Century, we had what it took to not just survive but emerge victorious.

For a Better Kentucky.

Keith Jackson
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA

 Trust Her to Find Answers: Women Veterans Call Center

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Calling All Women Who Served in the United States Military!

Do you know your Veteran status? Do you have a Veteran ID card? Should you receive any benefits from VA, like the GI Bill? Do you know what health care benefits you have earned? If you do not know the answer to even one of these questions, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has established the Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC) just for you.

The WVCC staff is trained to provide women Veterans, their families, and caregivers with VA services and resources. We are ready to respond to your concerns. The call is free, and you can call as often as you like until you have the answers to your questions. The Call Center is available Monday through Friday 8 a.m. - 10 p.m. ET, and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. ET.

Call, Chat, or Text Now Available.

 Alternatives to In-Person Service at KDVA

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In accordance with the COVID-19 guidance issued by Gov. Beshear restricting in-person service by state government agencies, KDVA has established website, phone, and email alternatives to maintain services to Kentucky’s veterans and their families.

Department of Veterans Affairs The Office of the Commissioner in Frankfort is closed to in-person meetings. For more information and updates on KDVA services, visit or call 502-564-9203.

Benefits Assistance Field offices and outstations are closed to in-person meetings. Communicate with Veterans Benefits Field Representatives (VBFRs) by Skype, FaceTime, phone, or email. Locate the benefits representative for your county at, or call or email Donna Scrivener, 502-330-5724,

Veterans Centers (Skilled Nursing Facilities) All Kentucky Veterans Centers are closed to visitors. Exceptions are allowed for immediate family members regarding end-of-life circumstances. All personnel entering these facilities will be screened before entering. Call the center directly for specific details. Find contact information for each center at, or call or email Mark Bowman at 859-553-9359,

Veterans Cemeteries The administrative office of all Kentucky Veteran Cemeteries is closed to in-person meetings. Exceptions are authorized only for next of kin, or persons authorized to direct disposition of remains. Visitors to gravesites are authorized but are limited to small groups of 10 or less while practicing social distancing. Attendance at funeral services is restricted to immediate family only. Call the cemetery directly for specific details or to schedule an appointment by next of kin. Find contact information at, or call or email Al Duncan at 502-229-2718,

Homeless Veterans Emergency Assistance For assistance with utility cut-off notices, eviction notices, or temporary housing, call, FaceTime, or email Eileen Ward at 502-352-3120,

Employment Assistance For assistance with unemployment insurance and other resources for furloughed veterans, or small veteran-owned businesses needing assistance information, call, FaceTime, or email Monica Acob at 502-234-4854,

Family Assistance Program For veterans or families facing difficulty dealing with isolation or needing other assistance, call, FaceTime, or email Candace Bradley at 502-545-4193,

#COVID19 #TeamKentucky #OurKYHome #TogetherKY

Keith Jackson
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA

 Complete the Census: Every Person Counted Counts

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Next to voting, completing the Census may be the most important thing you do as a citizen this year.

The Census touches almost every part of your life - from how many potholes get filled on your street to who represents you on city council. But sometimes people don’t get counted. That means their voice isn’t part of these decisions.

In 2020, we’re working to make sure that everyone gets counted when the time comes.

We are encouraging every veteran to make sure they are counted. Make sure your service gets reflected in the census. A complete and accurate census count helps both the federal VA and the Commonwealth of Kentucky know where to place services to ensure Kentucky’s veterans have access to the care and services they’ve earned and deserve.

Knowing your age, gender and general location ensures we put the right services in the right place. Like a women’s health clinic, a community clinic or a veterans center. Census day is April 1, 2020, but you can respond online starting in March.

Look for a mailing around mid-March with information on how to take the survey. All census data is confidential. Answers are not shared with anyone.

Complete the Census. You count. Make sure you are counted.

Keith Jackson
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA

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 Honoring Kentucky's African-American Veterans

Kentucky is proud to be the home of the most decorated African-American veteran of the U.S. military.

Colonel Charles Young was a 19th-century military officer and diplomat. He was the third African-American graduate of the United States Military Academy, the first black US National Park Superintendent, first black military attaché, first black man to achieve the rank of colonel in the United States Army, and highest-ranking black officer in the regular army until his death in 1922.

On Feb. 11, 2020, Governor Andy Beshear will honor Col. Charles Young by promoting him to Brigadier General in the State Guard. The event will take place at 11 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda.

Young was born into slavery at the end of the Civil War in Mays Lick, Kentucky, near Maysville. He entered West Point on competitive examination in 1884, and quickly showed a flair for languages. He graduated in 1889 as a 2nd Lieutenant after enduring years of extreme hazing and harassment because of the color of his skin.

He volunteered for service in the Spanish American War and was given command of an all-black regiment, but the war ended before they deployed. Nevertheless, he was the first African-American to command such a large unit of soldiers.

He served at posts in the West and became the first African-American Superintendent of a National Park. He served overseas in Mexico, Haiti, Liberia and the Philippines, reaching the rank of Colonel by 1917 – the first African-American to do so. He taught military science at colleges and wrote a prescient book about how democratic societies affect the military service of minorities.

But his deserved deployment in World War I and promotion to Brigadier General was denied to him because of his race. While he always commanded black troops, as Brigadier General he would have had white officers under his command. Southern officers vociferously objected, and the military denied Young his final service.

Young’s story reflects both the obstacles facing African-American service members and veterans and how extraordinary efforts and determination can achieve respect and overcome bigotry.

On Nov. 11, 2018, Veterans Day, city and state leaders unveiled the Colonel Charles Young Veterans Memorial in the Russell neighborhood of Louisville. It stands at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage at 18th Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

In this Black History Month, it is appropriate that we honor Colonel Charles Young by honoring our African-American veterans still serving their nation today.

Keith Jackson
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA


 Holiday Message from KDVA Commissioner Keith L. Jackson

Last week I began a journey into what I consider to be one of the greatest service opportunities anyone could ever experience. Serving those who have served this Nation and this Commonwealth with dignity, pride and patriotism. Our mission simply put is to support, educate, and provide services to veterans their families and dependents. I have seen dedication to this mission in every person I have met within our agency thus far. Their professionalism is beyond reproach; their positive attitude is infectious to all they come in contact with; their compassion for the veterans and their families is a part of the DNA of this organization.

We often look for the “BIG SPLASHY” acts of kindness of service or devotion by which we can prove our love for one another, when it is the smallest acts of service that go unnoticed which are the ones that are the most rewarding. Those are what I have seen in the cemeteries, nursing homes, benefits representatives and support staff. The “Thank You” is in the giving of one’s self in an altruistic way. By the nature of what we do in the giving of our talents to the veteran community we touch all aspects of the Commonwealth in some form or fashion.

We are an organization that provides support, guidance, perspective, care and love to those that were willing to sacrifice life and limb for this nation and its freedom. So as we begin this journey into 2020 I want to say “THANK YOU” to all KDVA staff for their service, each of them from housekeeping and food service to the Deputy Commissioner. All of them are amazing individually and collectively outstanding. They have done and are doing magnificent things to insure every veteran they touch has an opportunity to receive benefits and services in times of need. We want to make sure that every veteran family knows that they will find respect, devotion and the highest levels of care and service from the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs.

I am overjoyed, excited and enthusiastic about this opportunity to continue this missionof caring for our veterans and their families. I am looking forward to meeting each and every one of our exceptional employees over the next few months. I may not remember every name but I will never forget a face or lose the connection we will establish over time. God Bless you all, this Commonwealth and the United States of America.

Keith Jackson
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA

 Happy 363rd Birthday, National Guard

You read that right. The National Guard, including all state units, is three hundred and eighty-three years young today.

We recognize December 13th as the birthday of the National Guard. On this date in 1636, the first militia regiments in North America were organized in Massachusetts. Based upon an order of the Massachusetts Bay Colony's General Court, the colony's militia was organized into three permanent regiments to better defend the colony. Today, the descendants of these first regiments - the 181st Infantry, the 182nd Infantry, the 101st Field Artillery, and the 101st Engineer Battalion of the Massachusetts Army National Guard – share the distinction of being the oldest units in the U.S. military. December 13, 1636, thus marks the beginning of the organized militia, and the birth of the National Guard's oldest organized units is symbolic of the founding of all the state, territory, and District of Columbia militias that collectively make up today's National Guard.

This date is recognized based upon the Department of Defense’s practice of adopting the dates of initial authorizing legislation for organized units as the birthdates of the active and reserve components of the armed services.

The Kentucky National Guard, like other state National Guards, has been known under various names such as state militia or state guard. It has the distinction of being one of the oldest military forces in the United States. Its history dates back to 1775 when Kentucky was known as Fincastle County, a part of western Virginia. The fundamental concept of a state or local military organization has existed since 1636, when the Colony of Massachusetts formed a regiment of “Trained Bands.”

Throughout her history, Kentucky has cherished the tradition of rendering military duty with zeal when called upon. Kentucky’s history teams with incidents of self-sacrifice unsurpassed in daring and achievement. Kentuckians have answered the call to arms in all wars of our country.

Since its inception, the Kentucky National Guard has not only stood ready as an alert fighting force ready to defend Kentucky and the United States against those who would destroy our democratic way of life but this voluntary citizens Army has also served in times of national disaster. The skill and proficiency with which the Guard has served Kentucky further contributes to the fact that it is, and will continue to be, a necessary and indispensable organization for the continuing existence of the Commonwealth.

To see the more of the rich and distinguished history of the Kentucky National Guard please Click Here.

Keith Jackson
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA

small CommemorativePartnerLogo_Final_10-3-12 ai.png Spotlight: Veterans Benefits and Services
KDVA proudly offers FREE benefits assistance, including filing claims or appeals, by our 20 Veterans Benefits Field Representatives to veterans in every county of the Commonwealth. Our benefits experts are fully trained and accredited by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and take pride in obtaining every benefit and service veterans have earned.


Two Ways to Stay Informed:

Sign up for text alerts.  We send these no more than two or three times per week, always to call attention to imminent events of interest to veterans.  Text Follow kyveterans to 40404.

Join the KDVA listserve. We send no more than two or three emails per day about events and issues importatnt to veterans. If you wish to be added to the listserve, please email



​News & Events

Become a Vietnam War Commemorative Partner 
Join more than 100 Kentucky communities and organizations.
Find out how your town, country, group, business or club can honor local Vietnam Veterans and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Agent Orange Town Hall Meeting
May 10, 6:00 PM Jackson Energy Cooperative, 177 Barbourville Road, London. Attendees will learn more about the effects of Agent Orange onveterans who served in Vietnam and the possible effects on their children. For more information, contact Mr. David Cowherd, President VVA Chapter 1051 at

Veterans Memorial Park of Kentucky Annual Program
May 11, 11:00 AM South Oldham High School, 5901 Veterans Memorial Parkway, Crestwood. Join with other patriotic Kentuckians to honor our nation’s finest--veterans and those still serving in America’s Armed
Forces. Keynote speakers include BG (Ret.) Benjamin Adams Jr., Commissioner, Kentucky
Department of Veterans Affairs and former Miss America Heather French Henry. The event will
recognize and honor Gold Star Families. For more information, contact Mrs. Ann Helton,
Secretary, Board of Directors, VMPKY at 502-243-9998 or via email at

Veterans Resources United of Central/Southeastern Kentucky (VRUCK) Meeting
May 16 3:00 PM  Eastside Library, 3000 Blake James Drive, Lexington. Meeting is open to
anyone interested in attending. VSO’s, veterans, and friends are welcomed to attend! VRUCK’s
purpose is to bridge the gap between veterans and the many different programs and resources
that support them to ensure veterans and their families know what services are available to them!
For more information, contact Phyllis Abbott at 859-806-4297 or via email at 

Warrior to Soul Mate Workshop
May 17-18 6:00PM-9:00PM Warrior to Soul Mate Workshop. Robley Rex VA Medical
Center, Room E005, 800 Zorn Avenue, Louisville. Day 2 will be from 9:00AM-4:00PM. This 9-
hour workshop is available for any veteran couple to attend. One of the partners needs to be a
veteran enrolled in VA care. They do not need to be involved in MH to attend. Warrior to Soul
Mate offers practical tools to create, nurture, restore and rekindle relationships in a safe, fun,
friendly environment. Research shows that often veterans experience relationship problems and
many of them decide to divorce before they even talk with a therapist. Divorce can be
devastating for the veteran and family members. These VA workshops provide education about
practical skills to strengthen marriages and families. The workshop will take place in a group
setting, with instructors, over a Friday evening and during the day on Saturday. Instructors are
skilled, perceptive, effective facilitators from different disciplines. They will teach communication skills, relationship skills, and emotional literacy skills to couples. Facilitators have been trained and certified. To register or obtain more information, contact Brittany Priddy at or 502-287-4913. 

2019 Memorial Day Vigil
May 25 12:00 Noon Waterfront Park, Louisville. Hosted by Flags4Vets. Adult and children volunteers are needed to place 15,000 veteran grave flags on the Great Lawn at Waterfront Park. For more information, contact Mr. Fred Moore, Executive Director at email or call 502-931-0374.

In compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, this Department’s services, assistance, and activities are available to all without regard to race, color, or national origin.