Advertisement
  1. Opinion

How do we help the veterans still among us? | Editorial

Here are four programs that will help you do that.
Navy veteran William Hart pauses over the grave of his wife, Sally, after placing fresh flowers following the Memorial Day ceremony Monday at Bay Pines National Cemetery in St. Petersburg.
Published Oct. 4

The Sarasota funeral for veteran Edward K. Pearson was a triumph of life. More than 1,500 people showed up this week to pay their respects to a veteran who had no immediate family members, according to his obituary. Pearson became a symbol for all of the lonely veterans and elderly in the state. He could have been a father, a brother or a neighbor.

The funeral turnout is inspiring, and it can be more inspiring if it spurs Floridians to spend time with veterans who are still with us. Projections from the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs indicate that there are as many as 1.5 million veterans in the state. Pearson was 80 when he passed away. He had experienced a series of tribulations in the last few years of his life. His mobile home was practically destroyed during Hurricane Irma, leaving him unable to pay his taxes and utilities.

We must not forget Edward K. Pearson and all the veterans and elderly who have similar stories. Here are four programs you can support or daily efforts you can take to help out those around us.

1. Volunteer at a Veterans’ Affairs hospital.

Volunteer opportunities are available at most Veterans Affairs’ medical centers across the country, including St. Petersburg’s Bay Pines Healthcare System and Tampa’s James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital. To get the most intimate access, program leaders suggest the Red Coat Volunteer Ambassador program, an assignment that allows for extended interaction with veterans. Volunteers greet veterans and help them find their appointments.

Who to call: In Tampa, Haley’s voluntary services office: 813-972-7533; in St. Petersburg, Bay Pines: 727-398-9394

2. Get a guide dog.

Palmetto-based nonprofit Southeastern Guide Dogs offers veterans guide dogs for those struggling with vision, service dogs for those struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and emotional support dogs for those who simply want a friend.

Who to call: 941-729-5665

3. Help build a home.

Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County’s Veterans Initiative is specifically geared toward helping veterans with home ownership and repairs. The program also offers veterans the chance to volunteer on other home-building projects for Habitat.

Who to call: 813-239-2242

4. Say hello.

The best relationships are forged with a simple hello. If there’s a veteran or an elderly person in your neighborhood whom you know lives alone, make a connection. It will be worth it.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Tim Nickens, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Florida's unemployment rate was unchanged in October at 3.2 percent, according to numbers released Friday. LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP
    The latest numbers were released Friday morning.
  2.  Jim Morin -- Morin Toons Syndicate
  3. Career Foreign Service officer George Kent and top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine William Taylor, right, are sworn in to testify during the first public impeachment hearing of the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, Wednesday Nov. 13, 2019, in Washington. JOSHUA ROBERTS  |  AP
    Here’s what readers had to say in Friday’s letters to the editor.
  4. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
Visitors head to Florida's Old Capitol building on the first day of the annual sixty day session, Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis addressed a joint session of the Florida Legislature Tuesday in Tallahassee.  SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The Florida Legislature appears determined to pass legislation requiring parental consent.
  5. Some of Tampa Bay's largest companies are being sold or are up for sale. Times files and Bloomin' Brands
    Tech Data is just the latest in a growing list of public companies bought up by out-of-state firms.
  6. A house for rent in St. Petersburg.  [SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN | Times] SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN  |  Susan Taylor Martin
    The City Council has afforded renters more protections from discrimination and unjustified late fees.
  7. Top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine William Taylor testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, during the first public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    Here’s what readers had to say in Thursday’s letters to the editor.
  8. Leonard Pitts undefined
    No controversy ever ends quietly on social media, writes Leonard Pitts.
  9. In this Oct. 11, 2018, photo, rescue personnel perform a search in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach. GERALD HERBERT  |  AP
    While it is too late to stop global warming, we can prevent it from getting worse, two scientists write.
  10. Florida's toll roads
    Here’s what readers had to say in Wednesday’s letters to the editor.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement