TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Millions of veterans come home from deployments bearing invisible wounds of what they experienced during their time serving the country. In honor of Veterans Day, Florida’s governor announced a new program in Southwest Florida that will be providing free mental health services to help veterans cope with those wounds.
Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Tampa Bay earlier this year for a similar event, celebrating the opening of the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Aspire Health Partners in South Tampa.
For more than 1.5 million veterans living in Florida, mental health services are a crucial part of transitioning back to civilian life.
The Sunshine State houses the third-highest number of veterans in the country, with one in 13 Floridians having served our country. About 230,000 of those are post-9/11 veterans.
Tampa Bay alone has more than 98,000 veterans, with the 27th largest population of veterans in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Just last week, one study ranked Tampa the best city in the country for veterans.
However, statistics show that those veterans are still at risk for a mental health crisis.
More than 6,000 veterans took their own lives between 2008 and 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
A veteran himself, DeSantis stressed the importance of mental health services in Monday’s press conference at the Lee Health Behavioral Health Clinic.
“The better we’re able to tackle the invisible wounds of war, the better we’ll be serving our veteran population,” DeSantis said.
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