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Hillsborough No. 1 when it comes to Florida veterans

A crowd gathers to watch the annual Veterans Day parade and classic car show hosted by and held at the James A. Haley Veteran’s Hospital and Clinics in 2013 in Tampa. Hillsborough County is home to 98,307 veterans , the most of any county in the state.
A crowd gathers to watch the annual Veterans Day parade and classic car show hosted by and held at the James A. Haley Veteran’s Hospital and Clinics in 2013 in Tampa. Hillsborough County is home to 98,307 veterans , the most of any county in the state.
Published Aug. 11, 2017

When it comes to veterans in Florida, Hillsborough County is No. 1.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2016, the county had 98,307 veterans.

That's the most in Florida, according to county officials, and represents an increase of more than 5,100 veterans over 2015.

And that doesn't even count thousands of active-duty service members who live in Hillsborough.

Duval County was No. 2 with 91,296 veterans, and Pinellas No. 3 with 90,533.

With $490 million in veterans benefits, Hillsborough also remained first in the state in the amount of federal veterans' compensation and pension benefits for the 2016 fiscal year. That represents an increase of $64 million over the previous year.

If you're a military veteran, dependent, or survivor and want to know more about the wide range of benefits and programs that are available to you, Hillsborough County Consumer & Veterans Services can help. Certified Veterans Service Officers assist military members and their families at four locations, and there is no fee. Staff also provides outreach and support to veterans in assisted-living facilities, nursing homes, private residences, and private businesses.

For information or assistance, go to HCFLGov.net/Veterans, or call (813) 635-8316.

•••

MacDill Air Force Base is under invasion and fighting back.

Not against an army or insurgents, but against a host of non-native plants like Brazilian pepper, lead tree, cogon grass, melaleuca, Australian pine, castor bean, Japanese climbing fern, Chinese tallow, hydrilla, water hyacinth, and cattails, according to documents compiled by the 6th Air Mobility Wing, the base's host unit.

During the next five-year period, MacDill intends to manage the spread of these nuisances. Its tools will include the chemical treatment and mechanical removal of those species and the planting of native vegetation.

The work, which will take place over some 2,300 acres, has a maximum price tag of $1.25 million, according to documents.

MacDill has been actively managing the spread of exotic invasive plant species on the base for more than 15 years, according to the document, although the greatest progress has been made in the last five years.

Several companies have submitted bids, said Air Force 2nd Lt. Allison L Mills, a wing spokeswoman.

The work is scheduled to begin in late September, she said.

•••

The Pentagon last week announced the death of an airman who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

Tech. Sgt. David Board, 49, of Barboursville, West Virginia, died August 2 in Kuwait in a non-combat-related incident while deployed in support of combat operations. He was assigned to the 130th Airlift Wing at McLaughlin Air National Guard Base, West Virginia.

Three Marines were killed in an MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft accident off the coast of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland, Australia, August 5.

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1st Lt. Benjamin R. Cross, 26, of Oxford, Maine. Cross was assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (VMM-265), Cpl. Nathaniel F. Ordway, 21, of Sedgwick, Kansas. Ordway was assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (VMM-265) and Pfc. Ruben P. Velasco, 19, of Los Angeles, California. Velasco was assigned to Battery G, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (BLT 3/5).

There have been 2,347 U.S. troop deaths in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan; 42 U.S. troop deaths and one civilian Department of Defense employee death in support of the follow-up, Operation Freedom's Sentinel in Afghanistan; 33 troop deaths and one civilian death in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the fight against the Islamic State; one troop death in support of Operation Odyssey Lightning, the fight against Islamic State in Libya; and one death under classified as other contingency operations as part of the global war on terrorism.

Contact Howard Altman at haltman@tampabay.com or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.

By the numbers

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs report, the VA expended more than $1.1 billion in benefits and programs in Hillsborough in FY 2016. Here's how it breaks down:

$490 million

Compensation and pension

$14.9 million

Construction

$118.9 million

Education and vocational rehabilitation/employment

$6 million

General operating expenses

$8.78 million

Insurance and indemnities

$476 million

Medical care