Veterans

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The U.S. military is downsizing. The war in Iraq is over, and combat troops are due out of Afghanistan by the end of next year. That means more than 1 million service members will be entering the civilian workforce in the coming years.

That’s why two veterans are on a mission to help employers and the community in general separate fact from fiction when it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Florida is home to around 1.6 million military veterans. That's a point of pride among state officials who like to say Florida is the "most veteran-friendly state in the nation.”

Florida offers a number of tax breaks and services to veterans and now, a new honor. Governor Rick Scott has created a state medal to recognize their service.

Sgt. Fredrick Coleman, USMC / U.S. Central Command Communication Integration

How do parents of adult children deal with the stress and uncertainty when their child volunteers to go off to war?

Jean Cicero is married to a police officer, now retired. She said it was no surprise that her son, Rick,  joined the Army and served in the first Gulf War or that he became a police officer when he returned home.

“It was kind of hard to decide which was more difficult, which made me crazier,” Jean said. “I would talk to him and he’d go ‘Mom, you’ve got to be brave because if you’re brave then I’m brave.’”

Wheelchair Athletes Test Access

Jul 18, 2013
Lottie Watts / WUSF

More than 550 wheelchair athletes are in Tampa for the 33rd National Veterans Wheelchair Games.  Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, public places have to be accessible to them. But one group of athletes from South Florida found some places are more accommodating than others. 

Shannon Buchholz traveled from Aventura with a group of athletes that included her husband Harvey, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a motorized wheelchair. Shannon said she made a reservation for 10, including four people in wheelchairs and one service dog, at Bern's on Saturday night after opening ceremonies for the games. 

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

This week, the Tampa Bay region is hosting more than 600 elite athletes, their coaches and families.

Opening ceremonies for the 33rd National Veterans Wheelchair Games were held this weekend at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Outside, under an inflatable arch, the first event, a hand-cycling race for 5K and 10K, started and finished.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Whether they’re offering predatory car loans or trying to sell burial services at the VA National Cemeteries  – there are scammers who prey on active-duty military and veterans.

Monday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 1223 that gives service members an added layer of protection from fraud and scams in state law.

Tampa VA Doctor Wins Award for Type 2 Diabetes Research

May 24, 2013
va.gov

The top medical researcher in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs works at Tampa’s James A. Haley VA Hospital.

Dr. Robert Farese won the 2012 William Middleton Award, which is given for outstanding biomedical research, for his investigation into the causes and possible cure of Type 2 diabetes.

Farese’s “breakthrough” work is important to veterans because 25 percent of all vets discharged from the VA have a diabetes diagnosis, usually Type 2 diabetes.

US House of Representatives

Army records from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are missing. And it appears to be more than just a misplaced file or two according to a report in ProPublica.

Cong. Jeff Miller, R-Florida, sent Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel a letter requesting a detailed accounting of how many files are missing:

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

About 150 University of South Florida graduates this May will wear a red-white-and-blue cord on their gowns as they pick up their diplomas. The cord signifies their service as a military veteran.

The graduates are transitioning into a civilian world where post-9/11 veterans have a higher unemployment rate than the national average. And some veterans feel their military service is counted against them when they apply for jobs.

“They were telling me nobody wants to hire us and that’s really not true,” said Kelly Myers, a Chase first vice president and district manager.

The discovery of a hidden camera in the room of a brain-damaged veteran at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center last year has led to new legislation in Congress filed Thursday.

The chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Jeff Miller of Florida, introduced the Veterans’ Privacy Act. 

Optimistic Veterans, Reservists Flood Job Fair

Apr 9, 2013
Maryam Saleh / WUSF Public Media

About 200 Tampa veterans and military spouses gathered at the Ragan Community Center in Tampa today. They met with potential employers at Hiring Our Heroes, a job fair hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as they searched for opportunities to transition back to civilian life.

Jorge Hoyos is a reservist with the U.S. Air Force. He's held contracting jobs in the past, but is now looking for a job with more stability, and an opportunity for growth.

Hiring Our Heroes / US Chamber of Commerce

Job fairs for veterans, coordinated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have made a mark over the last 21 months.

Between March 2011 and December 2012, the Hiring Our Heroes project held 388 job fairs where more than 18,000 veterans and military spouses got jobs according to a new report.

And the job fairs continue.

The State of Florida is looking to honor military veterans who have made significant contributions through civic, business, public service or other pursuits.

The Florida Veterans Hall of Fame is not a military hall of fame. Nominees will be considered for their contributions to the community of Florida and civilian accomplishments made during or after their military service.

Preference will be given to nominees born in Florida and those who adopted Florida as their home state.

Bay Pines VA

Here’s an opportunity for homeless veterans in Pinellas County, as well as veterans in need of help with employment, medical care or legal issues.

A "Stand Down" is scheduled Saturday, April 6, 2013, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m at Bay Pines VA, 10000 Bay Pines Blvd., Bay Pines, Fla.

A business survey of veterans who are transitioning back into civilian life reveals many would like to start or run their own business.

While the military provides rigorous training and discipline, it's not exactly the place to learn skills on how to succeed in business.

That’s the territory of an experienced businessman like Jack Grise who has created and sold two different businesses. He did a stint in the Navy when he was young and now wants to share business knowledge with veterans who want to start their own companies.

USF Library

The Tampa Bay area has lost another of its World War II veterans and heroes - a tank commander who fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

In addition to his distinguished military service which earned him a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Silver Star, Fred Karl worked at almost every level of state government from the Florida Supreme Court to Tampa City Attorney.

Karl will be remembered for many things. But he said World War II shaped him and taught him leadership.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Melissa V. Paradise) / MacDill Air Force Base

Today is Sequestration Day – the day that Congress’ mandatory budget cuts kick into gear a minute before midnight.  If that happens, it will take weeks, even months before the true impact is felt.

Florida’s Defense Industry and Military Bases

Gov. Rick Scott is certain of one thing - the mandatory budget cuts will severely hurt Florida’s defense industry. He says it contributes more than $73 billion and 754,000 jobs to the state economy.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Private Hugh Washington Mills was buried in Tampa’s Woodlawn Cemetery in the fall of 1919. But his grave went unmarked for almost a century.

Sandy Benitez, his great, great-granddaughter, discovered his grave site.  

Benitez’s genealogical search actually started when she tried to find where her mother’s grandfather, John Morgan Mills, was buried.

“They (the family) were never sure where he was buried,” Benitez said. “They used to go look for him all the time on the weekends and couldn’t find out.”

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The region is home to MacDill Air Force Base, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations as well as two of the busiest VA Medical facilities, James A. Haley in Tampa and Bay Pines in Pinellas County, which means there are several ongoing stories to monitor this new year.

Nicknamed "Stormin Norman" and remembered for his swift victory in Desert Storm, retired Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf died today in Tampa.

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