Department of Florida

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February 2022

It almost seems like last week was the beginning of the new year because the past couple of months have flown by, and so much has been accomplished.

As of the close of the Fall Conference, we have 52 new Post Service Officers, and they’re hard at work helping veterans in a variety of ways.

Between the Camp Lejeune Justice Act and the PACT Act, our veteran brothers and sisters can now qualify for a greater range of health and compensation benefits than ever before. The VA launched a major toxic exposure screening program at the beginning of the year and, as of this writing, has screened well over 1 million veterans, affording many with additional healthcare. This program was enhanced by the VA conducting what they called “Week of Action” events at our VA hospitals and many CBOCs. At the very least, you are encouraged to register for VA healthcare so you can take advantage of this benefit.

I had the opportunity to visit the Lake Nona VA hospital at the Veteran’s Experience building, where I spent the day learning about yet another method of healthcare that can be delivered, Virtual Reality. No, it’s not the headset that allows us to experience games but rather a whole collection of methods to treat PTSD, as well as an expansive list of other illnesses and diseases. I’ve begun working with VISN8, the governing authority, to expand this broadly.

Additionally, in connection to more and better treatments afforded to veterans, at the recent Veteran’s Expo, I once again spent time with the principals of Neurolumen, which the VA has for a while approved as a treatment for neuropathy, chronic pain, arthritis, sciatica as well as MANY other illnesses with a proven success rate of up to 90%. While there, I witnessed firsthand the positive results of this treatment and learned that veterans no longer need meds in many cases. If you fall into one of those categories, I encourage you to speak to your provider or contact Neurolumen directly at 405-463-6525.

At that same event, I met and spoke with Ms. Veteran America, Liliana Joie Byrd, a strong and visible advocate for “Final Salute, Inc,” whose mission is to provide homeless women veterans and their children safe and suitable housing. This organization does great things for our sister veterans and is yet another valuable resource. Still, with women veterans in mind, our Women Veterans Chairperson has continued conducting Women Veterans Forums at several Districts throughout the state. At these forums, women veterans have an opportunity never presented before.. to voice concerns that have been long overlooked so we can address them and make them welcome. Let us remember that they served too.

The last piece of information I’d like to share is one of paramount importance. As you know, the American Legion’s voice continues without stopping to address the issue of veteran suicide. We have helped and will continue to do so, and the VA has agreed that beginning Jan 17, 2023, veterans who are in acute suicidal crisis can go to any VA or non-VA healthcare facility for treatment at no cost. The veteran does not have to be registered for VA healthcare to receive this emergency treatment, including inpatient and/or residential care. We all need to remain vigilant and do all we can to get between our fellow veterans and suicide. Please help get the word out regarding this additional avenue of prevention.

I’m anxious to attend the Washington Conference at the end of the month and do all I can to encourage our elected officials to address legislation that will improve the lives of those who have served our great nation.

Alan Cohen
Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Chair