Addressing challenges our veterans face in Southwest Florida

About eighty veterans joined together in North Naples on Friday to honor those who fought for our country.

Frank Halas remembers the days serving oversees. Halas’ station was in Berlin, Germany. He can tell you a lot about the Berlin Wall.

“It was sad when people wanted to get over the wall and they wanted freedom to come into West Berlin,” Halas said. “Of course, they were killed when they were trying to get across the wall.”

It is those memories Halas carries close to his heart. He had the chance on Friday to share them with plenty of other veterans at a breakfast at Vi at Bentley Village in North Naples. As veterans honor those who served, many said there are still wounds to heal from the past.

Dennis Vassey, who served in the Army for 36 years, said it would take a lot more education. Vassey has seen everything from the Korean to the Gulf wars. To him, mental health is an immense issue.

“You really don’t know how war or how deployment affects an individual,” Vassey said. “And when you return, that’s when they begin to understand what impact that has.”

Halas said he has noticed fewer and fewer people joining the military, which leads to longer deployments.

“Sometimes we’ve had three and four deployments back to combat situations and I think that it’s a detriment to our military that serves oversees,” Halas said. “Because this is why they come back and they have mental problems because they see so much of combat.”

Another issue both veterans said was the lack of access to closer medical facilities. Right now, they have to travel to Cape Coral, Miami or Tampa for medical care.

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
Writer:Michael Mora
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