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Florida Matters: The Impact Of Veteran Suicide Part 2

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The U.S. has seen an increased rate of suicide among its veterans, and those deaths can change the lives of family and friends forever. This week on Florida Matters, our special two-part program on veteran suicide and the impact it can have on comrades and loved ones continues.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has expressed concerns about the increased rate of veteran suicide and is pouring resources into combating the problem. The most recent change will be effective July 5, when the VA begins expanding emergency mental health care to former service members with other-than-honorable discharges, a group of vets that isn't always eligible for military benefits.

Florida Matters spent the first half of our special two-part program on veteran suicide trying to better understand the issue – what factors could lead a veteran to die by suicide and how does the social stigma surrounding suicide impact how families grieve?

This week we’ll keep the conversation going, talking about how military culture presents unique challenges and opportunities for dealing with mental illness, how certain groups within the veteran population, like female vets, may experience increased feelings of isolation after returning to civilian life, and how reading and writing about experiences can help struggling vets and their families heal.

Our guests include:

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Credit Photo provided by Chaplain Linda Pugsley

Chaplain Linda Pugsley, a Vietnam veteran flight nurse and chaplain at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

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Credit Photo provided by Carla Stumpf-Patton

Carla Stumpf-Patton, Director of Suicide Services with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) and surviving spouse of Marine D.I. SGT Richard Stumpf.

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Credit Photo provided by Kelly Kennedy

Kelly Kennedy, U.S. Army veteran Communications Specialist, award-winning journalist and author of the book “They Fought for Each Other.”

Our conversation on veteran suicide has wrapped up for now, but we invite you to keep the discussion going.

Have you been touched by veteran suicide? Share your thoughts or experiences in the comments section below, on our Facebook page, or by emailing FloridaMatters@wusf.org.

Listed below are links and information about some additional resources available for suicide prevention and healing.

For anyone who has suffered the death of a service member or veteran:

https://www.taps.org/

https://www.va.gov/survivors/

For military community in need of support:

https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/

http://www.dspo.mil/

http://www.vets4warriors.com/

For the general population:

www.AFSP.org

http://www.suicidology.org/

http://www.floridasuicideprevention.org/

Some Tampa-based veteran centers to get help:

1.   Tampa Vet Center: 3637A W Waters Ave/813-228-2621

2.   James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital: 13000 Bruce B Downs Blvd/813-972-2000

3.   Veterans of Foreign Wars: 105 W Broad St /813-237-3183

4.   Veterans of Foreign Wars: 8414 N 40th St/813-985-6111

5.   United States Government US Veterans Affairs: 1507 W Sligh Ave/813-228-2621

Music used during the opening montage that recaps the first half of our two-part program on veteran suicide can be attributed to the artist Podington Bear

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.
Robin is Senior Editor at WUSF, spearheading the station's podcasting initiatives and helping to guide the vision for special reporting projects and creative storytelling. She created The Zest, the station's podcast that's all about food, which she continues to host and serve as senior producer.