Veterans

Courtesy of the American Dental Association

A one-day, free dental clinic for military veterans will open its doors Friday to provide urgent care from root canals to tooth fillings. And there are no empty chairs.

That’s because the second annual “Stars, Stripes and Smiles” event, organized by U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and the West Pasco Dental Association, has already filled its allotted 75 slots. But veterans’ names are still being taken for a waiting list.

FDVA

As Florida’s health care industry is growing, so too is the need for registered nurses and other medical personnel. The competition for qualified health care professionals is high which has one state agency banking on a nurse’s patriotism to attract new hires.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The military is big business in Florida. Business leaders estimate the state's 20 military installations, along with the defense industry and veterans,  account for 10 percent of Florida's economy.

So, it's no surprise that protecting Florida’s bases from realignment or closure is a top priority for elected officials and businesses alike.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

  Next month, it will have been 15 years since the United States went to war in Afghanistan and then later, into Iraq. It’s estimated 2.5 million men and women have served during that time and each has a story to tell.

Helping those service members and veterans shape and share their story is why Tampa brothers Matt and Mark Fetterman started the non-profit organization, The Homefront Foundation.

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

Veterans and their family members in the Tampa Bay region have an opportunity to help guide VA research at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital.

The Haley VA is looking for 10 volunteers to serve on a Veteran Engagement Council. The council will bring a veterans’ perspective and help shape VA research that studies things like the effectiveness of new technologies on veterans’ care.

Bobbie O'Brien/WUSF / WUSF Public Media

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp started up this week. But before they opened their practices to the public, even before the players started working out in pads, the team invited active-duty military, veterans and their families for a special Military Appreciation Day.

Hundreds turned out Friday before 8:45 a.m.

A U.S. Army staff sergeant and assistant professor of military science at the University of South Florida ROTC, Jonathan Darm, said there are some similarities between the military and professional athletes.

Military with PTSD

Traditional Fourth of July neighborhood celebrations --- like backyard rockets and cherry bombs -- can be problematic for those who fought to keep the country independent. The red-white-and-blue yard signs say it all: “Combat Veteran Lives Here, Please be courteous with fireworks.”

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Veterans who end up in jail or prison face a lot of problems when they get out – the lack of health care – finding employment - possible homelessness. To address those needs, the Department of Veterans Affairs has created several programs over the past decade.

The Health Care for Reentry Veterans program reaches out to veterans before they walk out of prison.

CVS MinuteClinics: A Cure For Long Wait Times At Veterans Affairs?

May 25, 2016

Struggling with long wait times, the Veterans Affairs Health Care System is trying something new: a partnership with the CVS Pharmacy chain to offer urgent care services to more than 65,000 veterans.

Nearly 83,000 U.S. service members are still listed as missing in action from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and other conflicts. Many of their families still hope their remains will be identified and returned home.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

There are some things that veterans just don’t feel comfortable talking about, except possibly with another veteran.

That sacred bond, shared between veterans, can transcend time and generations - especially among those wounded, disabled or experienced in combat.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Tampa Bay veterans, 60 and older, and their spouses can get free legal help drafting a will and related documents like advanced medical directives.

The Stetson University College of Law has joined with volunteer attorneys from the area to offer the "Wills for Warriors" program for a fourth year.

Veterans must meet some income guidelines and can’t own property outside Florida because it makes the will too complicated.

At a warehouse near Dallas, a black Lab named Papi tugs on a rope to open a fridge and passes his trainer a plastic water bottle with his mouth.

Service dogs are often trained to help veterans with physical disabilities. Now, a growing number are being trained to meet the demand from vets with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues.

Those dogs learn extra tricks — how to sweep a house for intruders, for example, so a veteran feels safe.

When Anthony McCann opened a thick manila envelope from the Department of Veterans Affairs last year, he expected to find his own medical records inside.

Instead, he found over 250 pages of deeply revealing personal information on another veteran's mental health.

"It had everything about him, and I could have done anything with it," McCann said in an interview.

The federal government has acknowledged that it wrongly declared more than 100 veterans dead and suspended their benefit payments, and says it is changing its policy of confirming deaths.

Pasco Support Services for Veteran Families

The Department of Veterans Affairs has the goal of ending veterans’ homelessness by January 1. That means any homeless veteran wanting housing will get it within a month or less.

The less-developed nature of Pasco County has created additional challenges when it comes to finding, counting and serving homeless veterans.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

A 2014 survey found that almost 20 percent of the households using the Feeding Tampa Bay food bank were either veterans or active duty military.

The Norman family is a military family recently arrived from Colorado and transitioning into civilian life in Tampa. Never in a million years did the parents imagine that they would need help feeding their children.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

A Hillsborough circuit judge is calling on the University of South Florida to live up to its recent ranking as a top "veteran friendly" university.

Judge Greg Holder has asked USF President Judy Genshaft to readmit a student veteran who was expelled after an off-campus incident in August 2014.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

"Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History" airs this month on PBS stations across the country, and on WUSF-TV on Sunday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

If you can’t attend a Veteran’s Day parade or ceremony this Wednesday, there is something else you can do to honor a veteran.

The Library of Congress is hoping civilians will help gather veterans’ stories and then submit their recordings to the Veterans’ History Project.

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