For 24-hour counsel, call the National Veteran Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You are NOT alone!
Veterans in Florida, call the Florida Veterans Support Line at 1-844-MyFLVet (693-5838) or 2-1-1.

News

Editorial: Vet campaign a winner

September 12, 2012

Pensacola News Journal

We congratulate the state Department of Veterans’ Affairs for its aggressive outreach program to make sure Florida veterans get all the benefits they have earned.

At the same time, we hope veterans take advantage of the information that’s readily available.

The campaign was launched statewide last week in an effort to link the state’s 1.6 million veterans to people and offices where they can find out if they are receiving the entire array of benefits and services. It’s impressive in its scope, including a new website and a smart phone app.

What’s especially appealing about the multimedia campaign is that it is designed to connect three generations of veterans – from those in World War II and Korea to those in Vietnam and to more-recent vets sent to Iraq and Afghanistan or to serve elsewhere.

“Some of Florida’s veterans fought for our freedom in the days before television while others never knew a time without personal computers, yet they all share the admiration of a grateful nation,” Mike Prendergast, executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, said in a news release announcing the campaign. “If they aren’t receiving the benefits and services they rightfully earned, we must use every approach available to reach them and set things right.”

The department points out Florida’s veteran population is the third largest in the nation, following California and Texas, and they have an enormous economic impact.

Department statistics show Florida veterans get more than $13.7 billion a year in federal compensation, education and pension benefits, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical services and military retired pay.

However, more is available:

– Only 260,000 receive service-related compensation or pensions from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

– There are 449,000 Vietnam veterans who may be unaware they could be entitled to a monthly payment for a service-connected disability if they suffer from one of several diseases associated with exposure to herbicides such as Agent Orange. The department says Vietnam veterans are the largest segment of vets in the state.

– The department’s commitment to reach out to all veterans, especially the 230,000 veterans of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, is to be commended. Some veterans served their nation and won’t ask for anything, while others may be too humble or embarrassed to see if they are entitled to additional benefits.

With luck, this campaign will reach them.

Want more info?

To connect with the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs online, visit https://floridavets.org/

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