With the Department Convention recently behind us our new leadership and chair team has picked up the mantle and hit the ground running. We wish them all every possible success and continue to pledge our support. One new addition is Deanna Hall, our new Women Veteran’s Chair. She has already conducted what was a successful Woman Veterans Forum and several more are already in the planning stages. Her vision is to reach out and offer a helping and welcoming hand to as many of our sister veterans throughout the state as possible.
I’m proud to announce that we once again conducted the Department’s Post Service Officer class, graduating a total of 74 Post Service Officers, many of whom have stepped up to this invaluable position for the first time. I’ve begun work on creating a PSO network within each district so that no veteran will have to wonder where to go for help.
Some important pieces of information for all: The PACT Act, referring to Burn Pit Exposure has, with tremendous support and effort, passed through Congress and awaits the President’s signature. It is estimated that as many as 20% of ALL living veterans will be able to benefit one way or another from this landmark legislation.
Regarding legislation, we’re asking that you contact your elected representatives and ask for their support with H.R 1282, the Major Richard Starr Act. This bill was introduced by Florida’s own Rep. Gus Bilirakis and addresses concurrent receipt issues that face so many military retirees here in Florida.
In cooperation with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network, at-risk veterans can now dial a 3-digit number..988..and instantly be connected to one of over 200 crisis centers to receive help that can often get between the veteran and suicide.
It seems that the VA has finally recognized what we’ve known for quite awhile..that Florida is one of 4 states that has the fastest growing veteran population. With that said, the VA has begun evaluating how best to shift their resources to better serve veterans.
In closing this month’s article I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their unselfish cooperation and hard work. I look very much forward to the coming year and what we’ll be able to accomplish together.
Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Chair