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Preparing for the next storm | Monday’s letters

Here’s what readers had to say in Monday’s paper.

Preparing for the next storm

Like many others, our team at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences watched to see how Hurricane Dorian would impact Floridians.

In the end, we were very lucky. Just a small change in the storm’s track could have been catastrophic for our state. Our thoughts go out to our friends in the southeastern states, and our hearts break as we see the images coming out of Bahamas.

There is much we can learn to prepare for the next disaster. Hurricane season is not over, and other natural and man-made disasters can happen any time.

Fortunately, our statewide network of faculty and staff works year-round to help agriculture and natural resources’ industries with preparation, mitigation and recovery for all types of disasters. Our team works with state agencies including Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, State Agricultural Response Team and USDA to assess the impacts on these industries.

Our efforts help support the tireless work of the Florida Division of Emergency Management and each county’s emergency management department to prepare our state and to keep our citizens safe. Many of our faculty and staff work in their county emergency operation centers, food banks and shelters.

Angie Lindsey, Gainesville

The writer is an assistant professor of family, youth and community sciences in the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).

Helping our veterans in need

A disturbing number of veterans take their own lives. About 7,300 veterans die from suicide each year, including nearly 600 veterans in Florida. Finding a solution to this public health crisis requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. To make a real impact, federal, state and local providers of resources must partner, pool resources and coordinate care and services.

In Florida, we recognize these challenges and are breaking down bureaucratic barriers. We are making progress. This is best demonstrated through the growth of the Florida Veterans Support Line, 1-844-MyFLVet (693-5838). Supported by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, the Florida Department of Children and Families, and operated by the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, the line provides confidential support and connection to community resources 24/7/365. The line is available to veterans in Florida.

A group of World War II veterans from Florida visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

As we continue to move forward together, we are meeting and learning from communities and local organizations about how best to partner with them and leverage the resources they can provide. We continue to support and promote the abundance of resources available to veterans to include the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255, press 1), and the evidence-based, mental health services available at VA health care facilities.

What can you do to help? Add the support lines above your cell phone contacts, share the numbers with others and ask them to do the same. Second, visit www.visn8.va.gov/savealife.asp to download and share outreach materials. Most importantly, be there for veterans, listen to what they say and connect them with VA and other community resources.

Miguel H. LaPuz, network director, VA Sunshine Healthcare Network

Danny Burgess, executive director, Florida Department of Veterans Affairs

Clara Reynolds, president and CEO, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay

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