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Taking Care of Veterans

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Upcoming Events Supporting Veterans

The Hernando Sun sat down with Jim Bravico, Commandant of The Marine Corps League 708 and President of The Guardian Foundation and Ken Michael of Spring Hill American Legion Post 418 and VFW Post 10209 to discuss upcoming events for veterans.

These groups are joining forces to help area veterans. Jim explained that there are 23,000 veterans in Hernando County.

They are planning two major events for the fall. They are planning an Operation Stand Down event to help fight veteran homelessness at Anderson Snow Park from Oct. 4 through 6 and the Second Annual Vet Fest on Nov. 2.

Operation Stand Down events happen all over the United States. The goal of the event is to allow “the community to connect with our homeless veterans.” There is a large Stand Down event in Pasco County.
Locally, they do not want to stop with veterans in the Stand Down event. They want to help all the homeless. Bravico explained, “We can’t stop there. We need to take care of everyone in the community. You can’t do for one and not for the other.” Michael further expounded that their goal is to “help all homeless and displaced people in Hernando County.”

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They already have at least 44 community partners for the event. They are looking to provide dental consultations, haircuts, wellness checks, podiatry consultations, and much more. They are working with local churches to gather clothing, pillows, backpacks, and bicycles. Anything left over is going to the Hernando Homeless Initiative.

Another concern of the homeless is their pets. The Future Farmers of America (FFA) veterinarian techs are planning on providing screening services.

The Vet Fest will be happening for the second time on Nov. 2 at Veterans Memorial Park. This is a family-friendly event with bands, vendors and food trucks. This is an opportunity for the community to come out and have a good time while supporting local veterans. For veterans, it is a chance to interact with many services in a single place.

Bravico explained that MCL 708 is a year-round resource for veterans. They help at least five veterans per week navigate the complex VA system. “The VA is a vast world. You can get lost very easily,” said Bravico.

MCL 708 is currently hosting the Vet Center until they can find a permanent location in Hernando County. The Vet Center is “Combat Vets Helping Combat Vets.” They can pull VA records to assist with issues and they will work with groups or one on one.

If you’d like to provide services at the Stand Down or attend Vet Fest as a veteran resource, reach out to Jim Bravico 352-263-7017 or Ken Michael 618-335-0043.

Bravico and Michael are encouraged by the enthusiasm and support they have received from the community organizations they have reached out to and said they’ve only been told no once.

They hope that their efforts on the Stand Down event will plant the seeds to make this an annual event and the county can step in and make it bigger.

Bravico said, “It may not cure the problem (homelessness) today, but down the road, it will become a lot less of a problem.”

Hernando County Stand Down event Oct. 4-6 plans to bring the following services to the Homeless Veterans and other Homeless during this event:
1. VA Benefits
a Benefit enrollment
b Screening for available benefits
c Talk about transportation to appointments
2. VA Claims
a Help with submitting claims
b Scheduling C&P exams
3 Health Check-ups
a We will need nurses/doctors to check blood pressure and basic overall health.
b Screen for possible problems
c Have information on programs for health services
4 Hair Cuts
a We will need Barbers/Stylists/people who can cut hair to help them
b Donations of haircut equipment
5. Podiatrist exams
a We will need Doctors/Nurses who specialize in feet to do a check of everyone’s feet
b Foot care is a major concern for a lot of homeless
6. Dental exams
a We will need Dentists/Dental Hygienists to do exams and cleaning
b Dental work is rarely available for the homeless
7. Hygiene Kits
a Toothpaste and Tooth brushes
b Foot Powder
c Floss and Mouthwash
d Body Powder
e Deodorant
f Kleenex
g Cotton Balls and Q-tips
h Band-aids
I Lip Balm
j Comb / Brush
k Tampons / Pads
l Hygiene Wash
m Baby Wipes
n Razors
o Lotion
p First Aid Kits
q Soap and Shampoo
r Sterilization Items
8. Donated Clothing
a Do a clothing drive
b Ask for donations / vouchers from Goodwill / Salvation Army / other thr9ft stores
9. Blankets and pillows
a Ask for donations / do a drive
b Ask local retailers for donations
10. Food Donations
a Do a food drive
b Ask local food banks for donations
c Ask Local retailers for non-perishable food
11. Information about local resources and programs
a St. Vincent DePaul
b Salvation Army
c People Helping People
d Good Will
e County Resources
f State Resources
g Medical Resources
h Veteran Resources
12. Hudvash and Section 8 housing
a Some organizations have programs to help homeless find homes
b We need to give them a hand up
13. Job Fair
a Job placement can help turn around some of the situations that we find the homeless in
14. Mental Health
15. Decent Meal

Rocco Maglio
Rocco Magliohttps://www.roccomaglio.com
Rocco Maglio is a co-founder of the Hernando Sun. He grew up in Brooksville and graduated from Hernando High. He then worked in technology for starting in the early 1990s. He was fascinated by the potential of the Internet even though at the time there were not graphical browsers. He recently earned a Master of Science in Information Technology with a specialization in Cybersecurity.
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