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Veterans

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

Secret patient waiting lists, delayed medical care, retaliation against whistleblowers  are all reasons why trust in the VA hit an all-time low this spring especially on Capitol Hill.

The new Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert “Bob” McDonald is trying to restore that trust. He’s started by visiting as many VA facilities as possible during his first 90 days in office.

McDonald toured several Florida VA facilities this week and he invited U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee of Veterans Affairs, to come along.

VA.gov / Department of Veterans Affairs

Tampa's James A. Haley VA Medical Center, 13000 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., is inviting veterans and their families to voice their concerns about service and share their ideas on how to improve at a town hall today, Sept. 4, 2014, at 3:30 p.m.

It is the second such veterans' town hall held in as many days in the Tampa Bay region.

Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

Here’s an opportunity for veterans and their family members who want to share ideas, compliments and complaints with the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System and St. Petersburg VA Regional Office.

It’s a town hall, scheduled Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014 as part of the “improved communication” called for by new VA Secretary Robert McDonald.

The goal is to hear directly from veterans.

Tessa Wiseman / WUSF Public Media

When teachers ask this fall, “What did you do on your summer vacation?”  nearly four dozen Tampa teenagers will answer, “I spent it at the James A. Haley VA Hospital.”

For more than a decade, Haley has been operating a summer Youth Volunteer program that gives teenagers insight into health care careers while at the same time helping veterans.

Veterans and military family members looking for a job or a new career – today is your day. Several Florida state agencies are sponsoring Paychecks for Patriots.

There are 18 hiring events planned throughout Florida Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. organized by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), and the Florida National Guard.

USO Day Room Opens at Haley VA Hospital

Jul 1, 2014
WUSF

Tampa's James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital officially opened a USO Day Room today, located next to the Spinal Cord Injury Center where there are many long-term patients.

This is the first time a USO center has been built inside of a veterans' hospital. Senior Vice President of the USO John Hanson said that although the 1,900-square foot space is not the largest USO center, its impact will be "profound."

Gov. Scott Honors Veterans For Service

Jun 30, 2014

Two hundred veterans were honored by Gov. Rick Scott in a ceremony at the American Legion Post 111 Tuesday. This was the first stop of his weeklong Veterans Service Award Tour.

Arnie Mount, who was one of the veterans recognized by Scott, served in the Navy for 25 years. He said he appreciates the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs and the governor for taking the opportunity to reach out to veterans.

Latest Research Showcased at Haley VA Hospital

Jun 19, 2014
Yoselis Ramos / WUSF

A few dozen researchers were abuzz showing off their projects under way at the James A. Haley VA Hospital. The public showcase held Thursday is a part of National VA Research Week. Projects varied from genetics to obesity.

Carl Hayward, a physical therapist with the VA, has invented the stand bar, which attaches to motorized wheelchairs to help people get off their seat and stand. Hayward said it goes beyond helping improve posture.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The Veterans Affairs scandal over delayed medical appointments and secret wait lists is still unfolding. And there’s been plenty of evidence that there are systemic problems at VA medical facilities throughout the U.S.

Yet, even the VA’s toughest critics note that most of the VA medical staff are hardworking, dedicated professionals.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

This Friday will mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the historic military landing at Normandy during World War II. 

This week on Florida Matters, we'll take a look at D-Day through the eyes of a C-47 pilot who was there.  First Lt. Gerald “Bud” Berry was among those who flew paratroopers behind enemy lines in the hours before the beach invasion. 

WUSF Public Media

How to do you plan to observe Memorial Day - a day set aside to remember service members who have fallen in battle and others who are no longer living.

Kurt Rotar, director of the Florida National Cemetery at Bushnell and Bay Pines National Cemetery in St. Petersburg, suggested visiting your nearest national cemetery to pay tribute. There are planned ceremonies or you can just walk among the veterans buried there.

Gov. Rick Scott has rejected a request from Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater to consider a search for a new head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Scott wants the cabinet to consider changes at the departments of insurance regulation, financial regulation, and revenue. The exchange comes as Democratic lawmakers call for an investigation into the ouster of former FDLE head Gerald Bailey.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Gov. Rick Scott, a Navy veteran and son of a veteran, convinced Congress to hold a field hearing to delve further into care being provided at Florida’s VA hospitals.

All this came after state regulators spent most of April conducting unannounced visits to Florida’s VA hospitals, and were denied access to their federal records.

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.

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.

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.

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.

www.cemeteryprints.com

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.

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.

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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