veterans

After Marine Sgt. Thomas ("TJ") Brennan was hit by the blast from a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan in 2010, he suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him unable to recall much of his immediate past — including, at times, the name of his own daughter.

"When I got blown up, it erased a lot of my memories," Brennan says.

Jacksonville is one of six Florida cities Congress has approved for new VA outpatient facilities. 

While the public is normally urged to “thank a Veteran” they meet, the head of Florida’s Department of Veterans' Affairs also wants people to ask a state vet about their earned federal and state health benefits.

This week the Department of Veterans Affairs expanded emergency mental health care to vets with other-than-honorable discharges. It's part of an effort to curb the recent increase in veteran suicide.


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.


Air Force veteran Billy Ramos, from Simi Valley, Calif., is 53 and gets health insurance for himself and for his family from Medicaid — the government insurance program for low-income people. He says he counts on the coverage, especially because of his physically demanding work as a self-employed contractor in the heating and air conditioning business.

Despite recent efforts by Congress to improve the performance of the Veterans Administration, some Tallahassee vets and even a local caregiver say their situation hasn’t improved.

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One day in February, Salvatore Pelegrino, a cancer patient at the Veterans Administration hospital in Miami, was peeling an apple at a table on a patio outside the hospital when a police officer approached and confiscated his knife. Pelegrino, who uses a walker and breathes with the help of an oxygen tank, was handcuffed and detained at a facility on the hospital campus, then issued a ticket for carrying a knife with a blade longer than 3 inches.

“How would you like to deal with [the ticket], sir?” the judge asked Pelegrino in court, in April.

Memorial Day can be especially difficult for relatives of service members who died by suicide. They often feel stigmatized, even around other military families.

More Floridians could lose their health insurance under legislation being considered by the U.S. Senate. That includes the poor, the disabled and military veterans.

Almost half a million veterans gained health care coverage during the first two years of the Affordable Care Act, a report finds.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have drafted more than a million family members into caring for returning wounded and injured troops. They've been called "Hidden Heroes" - the military caregivers of Post-9/11 veterans.

A growing number of veterans are looking to agriculture for their next career and entrepreneurial opportunity.

It was one week ago today when a man pulled a semi-automatic weapon from his luggage and killed five people and injured six others at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport.

The suspect, Esteban Santiago, 26, is an Army veteran who served in Iraq. And that has an impact that reaches far beyond the airport.

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.

There's growing evidence that a physical injury to the brain can make people susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder.

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.

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.

Mental Health Reform Effort Heads To Scott

Apr 5, 2016
Florida Governor's Office

Gov. Rick Scott will have 15 days to take action on a bill (SB 12) that would make wide-ranging changes in the state's mental-health and substance-abuse treatment systems.

It may seem counterintuitive – but a military medic or corpsman, trained to save lives in combat and provide health care at home, does not qualify for most civilian medical jobs.

What’s worse – many veterans are at a competitive disadvantage when seeking admittance into nursing colleges.

Meredith Geddings

More veterans could soon be able to access an alternative court system. Prisons are often called Florida’s largest mental health system – as many as 125,000 adults with mental illness or substance abuse disorders are booked into Florida jails each year.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

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.

A new medical director is at the helm of Tampa’s James A. Haley VA Medical Center. Joe D. Battle has only been on the job seven weeks but already has a long “to do” list.

Veterans who suffered sexual assault or other sexual abuse while in uniform would get help more easily from the Department of Veterans Affairs under a bill approved Monday by the House.

The bill would allow a statement by a survivor of military sexual trauma to be considered sufficient proof that an assault occurred. The House approved the bill by voice vote Monday night.

Lawmakers Talk LIP In Districts

May 27, 2015

 

 MIAMI-DADE HEALTH FUNDING AT ISSUE

U.S. Navy

Veterans' health care is a "high risk" budget issue that threatens to cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars unless longstanding problems are addressed, government auditors warned Wednesday.

The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office said health care costs at the Department of Veterans Affairs have nearly tripled since 2002 — to more than $59 billion a year — as a result of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the aging of Vietnam-era veterans.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants money to start planning to build the state's eighth and ninth nursing homes for veterans.

Scott will announce Monday that he is asking for $7.4 million from state legislators. Scott wants the money to help build a recently-approved home in St. Lucie County as well as two additional homes.

Groundbreaking on the nursing home in St. Lucie County is scheduled to begin later this year. No sites have been chosen for the next two.

On the new Congress' first day, the House unanimously approved Republican legislation Tuesday making it easier for smaller companies to avoid providing health care coverage to their workers by hiring veterans.

The measure was approved 412-0 and is the first of many expected GOP bills aimed at President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, which was enacted over uniform Republican opposition.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration doesn’t have the Constitutional grounds to inspect VA facilities, the News Service of Florida reports. In response to an AHCA lawsuit asking to inspect VA hospitals, the feds cited the “Supremacy Clause,” which says the state doesn’t supercede the authority of the federal government. Inspectors sent by Gov. Rick Scott’s administration over the summer had been turned away at Florida VA hospitals, the News Service reports.

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