PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — With more than 160,000 veterans in our five-county area, a new program in Palm Beach County is working to help veterans with anything and everything, including mental health.
"It's pretty much an A to Z type program to help link veterans and families in crisis," said veteran and My Florida Vet Coordinator Scott Lavallee. "I joined in 1985 to 1991. I did six years in the Army, I was part of Operation Desert Storm. Being a young adult, it’s often difficult. You’re in a foreign country and you’ve gone through training, but you never expect that until you are there. With combat, you see a lot of traumatic events and it’s tough to deal with that on all gamuts of life."
Lavallee says when he got home, he was lucky.
"I had a good family support, which was important, and many people don’t," says Lavallee.
That's where the My Florida Vet Program comes in.
"Life throws you some crisis fastballs and it’s good to have someone to talk too," says Lavallee.
Patrice Schroeder, 211 Community Relationship Specialist says, "We really have always worked with veterans but we wanted to do something a little more impactful."
"Some veterans don’t realize they are veterans. Some veterans think you have to go to combat to be a veteran. Some veterans do their term of service and get out, and never think they have benefits that are available to them. Sometimes veterans don’t want help from the VA specifically, but are looking for help. So, we are able to link them to the different programs in the area through community partnerships," says Lavallee.
The My Florida Vet program started in Tampa, to help give an alternative to the VA, and does more than they can in some cases.
"The lovely part about this program is we also help the veterans’ families. A lot of times, the veteran will be sent to the VA for programming but it’s specific to the veteran. But we know the family have needs as well," says Schroeder.
"It's pretty much an A to Z type program to help link veterans and families in crisis. When you get into a crisis and you don’t have somewhere to go, we’re not offering assistance, we’re offering a guide. We want to stand by a fellow brother or sister veteran where we know where you are and we can help walk you to a place you need to be," says Lavallee.
And by crisis, they mean any form of it.
"We address benefits. Then every day living, might be an every day living crisis, where they may be having trouble with an electric bill or paying their rent or they are at risk of being homeless. We’re empathetic, we’re open minded, we’re trying to help you with your crisis and walk you through," says Lavallee.
211 and My Florida Vet are available 24/7. You can call 1-844-MYFLVET or call 211.
You can also email: MYFLVET@211PBTC.ORG.