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Every day, hundreds of sick and injured patients walk into free and charitable clinics around the Tampa Bay area in need of a doctor.Many are suffering from chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Some patients were referred to the clinics by staff at hospitals where they landed after years of neglecting to care for treatable conditions.The clinics allow the patients to pay what they can, or nothing at all. They are staffed by doctors and nurses who volunteer their time. They survive off donations and small grants.Many of the patients have jobs but they are living paycheck to paycheck. None have health insurance, either because they do not qualify for Medicaid or can’t afford private coverage. For these patients, the clinics are often their only option for primary care.

Florida Matters: The Impact Of Veteran Suicide Part 2

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

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:

Credit Photo provided by Chaplain Linda Pugsley
The Florida Channel

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

Credit Photo provided by Carla Stumpf-Patton
The Florida Channel

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.

Credit Photo provided by Kelly Kennedy
The Florida Channel

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

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:

For military community in need of support:

For the general population:

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

Copyright 2017 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Stephanie Colombini joined WUSF Public Media in December 2016 as Producer of Florida Matters, WUSF’s public affairs show. She’s also a reporter for WUSF’s Health News Florida project.
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 hosts the weekly current affairs program, Florida Matters, on WUSF and also created The Zest, the station's podcast that's all about food, which she continues to host and serve as senior producer.