Christmas in Florida is a happy occasion for most families, even during these tough times navigating through a pandemic.
But lost in the news shuffle of a presidential election and the pursuit of a vaccine, was the VA suicide report which illustrated that Florida has led the nation in veterans suicide from 2015-2018. The 2020 report from the Department Of Veterans Affairs is just now letting us know that with these delayed numbers.
Which is why during these holidays, where many veterans are experiencing the strain of these tough economic times coupled with the loneliness of staying at home to be safer, we must check on them.
And as we move into the new year, we must keep asking our elected officials, what they’re doing to fix this problem.
Each year, the VA gets a bigger budget but all we hear about are more problems. From poor customer service in my hometown of Orlando to allegations of covering up sexual assault in Washington, the VA is not in the condition needed to reverse these disturbing trends.
The good news is that vaccine is coming. And that there will be fresh eyes at the top of the VA after years of inaction.
But the work has to come down to our communities. We need transparency and accountability at the VA to ensure our vets are being seen for depression.
And we have to continue to work on better transition services for those future vets, along with an economy that ensures they can find work.
Only by attacking this problem at it’s root can we ensure that the holiday season will be a time where veterans can experience the kind of happiness we all feel here in Florida during this special time.