As the Pinellas Co. community joined to honor those who have and continue to serve our country on Friday, they also look forward to helping bring in more veterans to get the help they deserve.
For the past year, leaders at the VA in Bay Pines have been one of the first in the nation to implement MyVA Community, a program aimed toward spreading the word about the services the VA offers, especially to older veterans.
Father Bob serves as the chairman of the board for MyVA Community in Bay Pines.
“They’re not taking advantage of the benefits that the country wishes that they had for the services that they rendered,” said Father Bob.
He served in Vietnam and says it took years before he got the help he needed, but he’s not the only one.
Truman Harris served in the Army , but didn’t join the VA until decades after he left.
“I’ve been out since ‘78 and I didn’t really think I could come to the VA,” he said.
He’s now been able to get services he wishes he had taken advantage of before.
“I’m happy that I did,” he said, "I’m meeting a lot more people than I used to.”
Father Bob says veterans like Harris are the reason they began the program.
“We knew nothing about any benefits whatsoever,” he said.
The program works with county and other community leaders to spread the word about what the VA offers.
They’ve also teamed up with staff at the county’s 211 system to ensure veterans calling for help get the answers they need.
VA leaders plan to expand MyVA Community to 100 different locations by the end of the year.
“It has come a long way,” said Harris. "We just need really good people in the office, or the VA, in the congress, in the house to come out and help us.”