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Florida Matters: The Impact Of Veteran Suicide Part 1

Our country asks a lot of its military members, most recently during the many years of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. The multiple deployments during Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn have taken their toll, in part, through an increased risk in suicide, especially among young male veterans.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is pouring resources into mental health efforts and suicide prevention, but we’re also more aware of the devastating impact a suicide can have on the loved ones that he or she leaves behind.

Florida Matters is doing a special two-part program on veteran suicide, its impact on comrades and loved ones and the support available for prevention and healing.

In this first part, we will try to better understand the issue -- what factors might lead a veteran to die by suicide, and how does the stigma surrounding suicide impact how families grieve? Next week in the second part, we'll dig a little deeper, talking about some more of the resources available and how certain groups of veterans, like female vets, may experience increased feelings of isolation after they return to civilian life. 

Our guests include:

Credit Photo provided by Chaplain Linda Pugsley
Chaplain Linda Pugsley

Chaplain Linda Pugsley, a Vietnam veteran flight nurse and chaplain at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

Credit Photo provided by Carla Stumpf-Patton
Carla Stumpf-Patton

Carla Stumpf-Patton, Director of Suicide Services with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors(TAPS) and surviving spouse of Marine D.I. SGT Richard Stumpf

Credit Photo provided by Kelly Kennedy
Kelly Kennedy

Kelly Kennedy, U.S. Army veteran Communications Specialist, award-winning journalist and author of the book “They Fought for Each Other.”

Our conversation on veteran suicide continues on July 4 with the second part of our program, but we invite you to keep the discussion going now.

Have you been touched by veteran suicide? Share your thoughts or experiences in the comments section below, on our Facebookpage, or by emailing FloridaMatters@wusf.org

Listed below are links and information about some additional resources available for suicide prevention and healing.

For anyone who has suffered the death of a service member or veteran:



For military community in need of support:





For the general population:




Some Tampa-based veteran centers to get help:

1.   Tampa Vet Center: 3637A W Waters Ave/813-228-2621

2.   James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital: 13000 Bruce B Downs Blvd/813-972-2000

3.   Veterans of Foreign Wars: 105 W Broad St /813-237-3183

4.   Veterans of Foreign Wars: 8414 N 40th St/813-985-6111

5.   United States Government US Veterans Affairs: 1507 W Sligh Ave/813-228-2621

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.
Robin Sussingham was Senior Editor at WUSF until September 2020.
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