Tomorrow, the nation, and everyone here in Florida will celebrate our bravest brothers and sisters for their service to this nation. In the coming days we’ll see ceremonies, parades, and other terrific events. That’s wonderful. Orlando in particular is a great community for veterans to feel loved. I know that firsthand.
However, there is still a lot of work to be done. And the real leaders understand that fighting to fix the issues we’re about to read about is a year around endeavor.
Florida is among the leaders for veterans suicides. Tallahassee hates when I say that because it makes them look bad, but its the truth.
Every year when that report comes out (you can read that HERE) we relearn this and take very little action to fix this. That needs to change.
There are also thousands of veterans who are waiting for benefits they earned because of a claims backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs. They are waiting years for benefits that could make a serious difference with their quality of life. This has been going on for a longtime and the concerns of our veterans go unanswered by the VA.
And finally, there is still a problem with veterans homelessness. This is a very personal issue for me. I’ve struggled with affordable housing and we’re doing very little to fix the problem as developers and property management companies continue to exploit transitioning veterans trying to build a future. This has to change. Make no mistake. A hostile housing environment hinders transition for our vets and leads directly into the backslide that could lead to homelessness.
There is some good news.
And the good news is that our leaders and our communities are ready to help.
We know what we have to do. We just have to do it.
Will 2022 be the year that we finally do it? I hope so. There is some great legislation that has been filed to recognize some of these problems (housing still isn’t going anywhere). But it’s a start.
Let’s honor our bravest tomorrow. And then let’s refocus and work to make the lives of our veterans in Florida a great experience everyday of the year. That’s how it should be.
And to my neighbors in Orlando, thank you.