Tag Archives: veteran

Serving those who have served us

Guest post by Doug Leonardo, Executive Director of BayCare Behavioral Health, a DCF partner.

Doug Leonardo

He sat at the desk closest to the door in a classroom at the community college.  He did not want to be there. His girlfriend and family pushed him to do it.  “John” was back after several tours in Iraq and not yet 25 years old.  He did not feel like he fit in anywhere, especially not in a classroom with a bunch of “kids.”  In the back of the room was another veteran, “Steve.”  The two had not yet met, but Steve was about to play a pivotal role in John’s life.

The professor was trying to engage John by asking him about his service in the military.  He was asking questions about where he served, what he did, for how long  and what it was like over there.  Then he asked the question that nearly created a crisis, “Did you see any action over there?”  Steve immediately saw the look that came over John’s face as his eyes went blank.  Steve interrupted the professor and suggested the class take a break.  John got up and walked out and Steve followed.  The two talked and Steve knew John was hurting and close to being out of control. Steve had been where John was and knew that if he didn’t get help that the outcome would not be good.

Steve told John about a free support group for veteran’s offered by BayCare Behavioral Health.  Steve knew about this group because he was the peer group facilitator who led the group open to all Veteran’s and their family members.

John took the information but did not appear to be interested.  He did not go to the next few classes and Steve was concerned.  One night at the support group, John walked in accompanied by his girlfriend.  She had found the information Steve gave to him and convinced John to attend with her by his side.  During the group John said nothing, again sitting near the door in case he felt like he needed to run.  But John stayed and came back again and again.  Eventually he started to participate in the group and eventually started to attend therapy sessions at BayCare Behavioral Health.

Today John is doing great.  He is still going to class and has found a job.  He continues to receive counseling services from us and seems to have turned the corner.  Today BayCare Behavioral Health serves over 1,600 veterans annually and countless more family members in services that range from outreach to outpatient therapy to detox to residential and everything in between.   We do this to help our service men, women and their families get the behavioral health services they need and deserve.  They served us, so now it is our turn to serve them.

For ideas about how to start a veteran’s initiative in your community, contact me at (727) 841.4207 ext 252.

We send a heartfelt thank you to all our veterans. You served us, now let us serve you.

*Names were changed to protect privacy and confidentiality.

Neglect of an elder veteran

Guest post by Adult Protective Services Human Services Counselor Lori Scott in Opa Locka.

photo courtesy of U.S. Army archives

After nearly 70 years, the man had accomplished much, including proudly serving in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years.

By the time we were notified about him, he was living in a small efficiency unit in an older building.  The floors and walls were dirty.  The bathroom floors and fixtures were covered in dirt and stained with mold and mildew.  The refrigerator and freezer were also dirty with food stains.  The entire unit needed a thorough cleaning, but he was unable to do this because of health conditions: He had a toe amputated from his right foot in March 2012.  He also suffers from chronic leg pains that make it difficult for him to stand or walk for long periods of time. He receives all medical care from the Veterans Hospital in Miami.

The veteran had very little food in the home and no money to purchase food.  He receives a military pension each month, but has a garnishment from the IRS and rent, which leaves him a small amount of money to purchase food and personal items during the month.

He has no family members living in Miami, so he relies on friends and the VA Hospital for transportation to his medical appointments.  He does not have a home phone or cell phone, which makes it difficult for him to arrange transportation.

Adult Protective Investigator Tamuno Eretoru and Human Services Counselor III Lori Scott

DCF was able to come in and help him by providing chore services that performed intensive cleaning of his entire home.  He was also given daily meals and homemaker services to assist him with daily cleaning.  The veteran also received a SafeLink cell phone that allows him to make contact with others when needed.  He continues to receive ongoing meals that the Department arranged through Jewish Community Services.  We also assisted him in completing an application for food stamps and will assist him with applying for social security benefits as well.

DCF Adult Protective Services becomes involved with vulnerable adults who suffer from neglect or abuse. This man wasn’t suffering abuse at the hands of another person, but was a victim of self-neglect.

Since DCF provided help, the veteran has expressed his gratitude for the services and ongoing assistance he received.  The delivery of meals each day and a cell phone to stay in contact with others have provided some relief to the stress that he has endured for the last several months. We were happy to help!

If you or someone you know are suffering because of any kind of abuse or neglect, please call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-962-2873.