Off The Base
7:39 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Technology Assists Physically Impaired Veterans

Rick Archer, a member of the Haley VA assisted technology team of therapists, explains how the reflection of infrared light off his pupil can operate a laptop computer.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Have you ever taken a photograph and the camera flash turned the person’s eyes into red or white dots? That bane of amateur photographers is becoming a useful tool for physically impaired veterans.

Rick Archer, an assisted technology therapist at the James A. Haley VA Polytrauma and Rehabilitation Center, has  a typical laptop computer in front of him. Attached to it is a black device, the size of a toothbrush case, called Eyegaze.

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Off The Base
12:32 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

New VA Center Gives Active Veterans a Climbing Wall, Aquatic Center, Putting Green

Exterior of the new aquatic center with two therapy pools heated by solar panels at the James A. Haley VA Polytrauma and Rehabilitation Center.
Bobbie O'Brien WUSF Public Media

It’s not your father’s VA anymore as evidenced by just one look inside the Department of Veterans’ Affairs new Polytrauma and Rehabilitation Center at James A. Haley VA Hospital at 13000 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa.

There’s a putting green, a two-story climbing wall, and an aquatic center for recreational therapy. Each of the 56 new private rooms has large windows for natural light, lush wood paneling, wheelchair accessible bathrooms, a desk and a large-screen TV so veterans and active duty personnel have direct access to education programs and entertainment.

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Off The Base
4:52 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Bill Nelson Slams VA For Not Answering Reports of Vet's Deaths

James A. Haley VA Hospital

The Veterans Administration has been fending off reports that military veterans have died needlessly because of long waits and delayed care at veterans’ hospitals. Today, Florida Senator Bill Nelson came to Tampa - looking for answers.

Nelson got a couple of answers - but other bigger issues were still left hanging. Like whether it's true that least 19 veterans have died because of delays in simple medical screenings at various VA hospitals or clinics across the country.

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Off The Base
7:17 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Military Families Serve Too, USF Center Offers Help

Credit USF Psychological Services Center

Family therapy, couples therapy, individual therapy, even weight management groups are all services that have been available at the USF Psychological Services Center for decades. Now, the center’s director, who served 10 years in the U.S. Army, is reaching out to the veteran and military families offering help.

“We know that there are veterans, for whatever reason, are still hesitant about seeking services in the VA,” said Jack Darkes, director of the University of South Florida Psychological Services Center.

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Off The Base
3:24 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Veterans Museum Committee To Honor Spanish American War Veterans

Spanish American War Headstone

A memorial is being held Saturday morning to honor those who served in the Spanish American War.

The Veterans Museum Committee of Hillsborough County is hosting the event that will unveil a new Spanish American War memorial in Veterans Park. Hillsborough County was a main embarkation port for the American army and naval units destined for Cuba in 1898.

Coordinator for the event, John Werner says this memorial is something everyone should be proud of.

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Off The Base
3:55 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Watch: Wreaths Across America Honors Veterans at Florida National Cemetery

The Durant High School ROTC places wreaths on the headstones of fallen veterans.
Credit Nathan Powell

On Saturday,  thousands showed up at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell for a ceremony to honor the nearly 100,000 veterans buried there.

Wreaths Across America is a nationwide effort to place wreaths on the headstones of fallen veterans.

Vietnam Veteran Bob Grimshaw called the ceremony "moving."

"It is deeply moving to me as a veteran, because I remember those that didn't return from Vietnam and all of the others from the other wars combined together, it is a deeply moving ceremony." Grimshaw said.

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Off The Base
7:35 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Fewer Holiday Wreaths for Veterans' Graves

Wreaths Across America at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell in December 2012.
Credit Wreaths Across America Facebook

The tradition of placing Christmas wreaths on the graves of fallen soldiers and veterans started in 1992 at Arlington National Cemetery. Wreaths Across America has grown to include cemeteries in all 50 states and more than 20 cemeteries overseas.

But this year, the program is experiencing a dramatic drop in donations at Arlington and other veterans’ cemeteries.

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Off The Base
2:58 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

VA Cuts Paperwork, Offers Flu Shot Options


Veterans in Florida can now get a flu shot at any of more than 800 Walgreens locations and the drug store will electronically forward their immunization record to the VA.

It's a pilot program being tried out in the Veterans Integrated Service Network 8 (VISN8) which includes all of Florida, southern Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It requires no paper record, no remembering at your next VA health care appointment.

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Off The Base
8:37 am
Fri November 15, 2013

A New HBO Documentary, Crisis Line: Veterans Press 1

A James A. Haley VA display set up this week at the University of South Florida to handout key chains, kitchen magnets and other information on the Veterans Crisis Line at the University of South Florida.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Every day, 22 veterans take their own lives.  That's according to a report released earlier this year by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  And that number could actually be higher. 

The rate of veteran-suicide is much higher than for the general population.

The Veterans Crisis Line was established six years ago to try and slow the flood of veteran suicides.

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Off The Base
8:16 am
Sun November 10, 2013

Veterans Day Events Around Tampa Bay

Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Throughout Florida and the nation, events and special showings are scheduled to recognize the sacrifice of those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces and those who are currently serving. Keep checking back for updates.

A map of Veterans Day observances throughout the United States is provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs: Celebrate our Veterans this Veterans Day.  Participate in Veterans Day events across the country on Nov. 11, and join VA as we #ThankAVet on social media.

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Off The Base
1:17 pm
Sat November 9, 2013

Free Veterans Entrepreneur Expo on Sunday

Jack Grise with the Pinellas SCORE Veterans Initiative, sponsors of the free Veterans Entrepreneur Expo.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

As more and more active-duty military enter the civilian workforce, the number of career and job fairs for veterans has grown.

But very little so far has been offered to those veterans and military families who want to work for themselves.

Enter Pinellas SCORE and its Veterans Initiative. For a second year, the free business mentoring group has planned a Start-Up Business Resource Expo for veterans, active-duty members and their families.

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Off The Base
8:26 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Researchers Work to Prevent Past Neglect of Veterans

Navy Petty Officer Engineman 1st Class Kevin Ives, assigned to the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton, embraces his sons during a homecoming celebration on Naval Base San Diego, Oct. 29, 2013.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Farrington U.S. Navy photo

An estimated 2.3 million men and women have served during the nation’s last 12 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. And as they transition out of the military, the veterans will need care for immediate and long-term conditions like post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.

And many from health care professionals to retired military are concerned that the neglect of past veterans is not repeated with this new generation.

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Off The Base
5:13 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Free Help for Low-Income Vets with Wills, Advanced Directives

Stetson University College of Law, Gulfport campus.
Credit Stetson University

Legal experts from Stetson University College of Law, the St. Petersburg Bar Foundation and the Community Law Program are offering free assistance with simple wills and advanced directives to veterans of World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars and their spouses in the Tampa Bay area.

To be eligible, veterans must have limited assets and low incomes and must make an appointment by Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. There will be no walk-ins allowed. To schedule an appointment, call 727-562-7800 x 7315 or 727-562-7393.

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Off The Base
8:07 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Florida Vets Group Plans Help Should VA Disability Checks Stop

Credit Wounded Warriors Project

The Florida-based Wounded Warriors Project (WWP) plans to open its coffers should the congressional stalemate continue and VA payments cannot  be made to veterans with disabilities and families of fallen service members.

The non-profit organization - which has assisted some 40,000 injured veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan war - has committed $20 million to help its alumni according to the WWP website.

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Off The Base
2:33 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

WWII Veterans Storm D.C. Memorials in Defiance of Shutdown

National Park Service security personnel speak on their phones after World War II veterans broke through a barricade with police tape that prevented access to the World War II Memorial on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013.
Credit Carlos Bongioanni/Stars and Stripes

World War II veterans on an Honor Flight from Mississippi pushed their way through barricades to visit Washington, D.C. memorials Tuesday, the first day of the federal government shutdown, according to the Stars and Stripes.

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