Collier County Veterans Council "Honoring All Who Serve"
Collier County Veterans Council"Honoring All Who Serve"

VA strengthens Caregiver Support Program and expands timeline of the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers 

Today the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced actions to strengthen the Caregiver Support Program and establish a timeline for expanding the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) in accordance with section 161 of the VA MISSION Act of 2018 (MISSION Act). Under the MISSION Act, VA will expand the PCAFC to eligible Veterans from all eras using a phased approach. Currently, the program is only available to eligible Veterans seriously injured in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001. Prior to expanding, VA must upgrade its information technology (IT) system and implement other improvements to strengthen the program. “Caregivers play a critical role in the health and well-being of some of our most vulnerable Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Under the MISSION Act, we are strengthening and expanding our program to positively impact the lives of Veterans and deliver the best customer experience to them and their caregivers.” In December 2018, VA suspended certain discharges from the program due to ongoing concerns about inconsistent application of eligibility requirements at VA medical centers. Since then, VA has held listening sessions with caregivers and other stakeholders, developed or amended 14 standard operating procedures to clarify program requirements for VA staff, increased oversight in each Veterans Integrated Service Network, provided training and education to staff and caregivers and is boosting operational capacity with the hiring of more than 680 staff. To modernize its caregiver IT system, VA is adopting a three-phased approach and will deploy a new system based on a commercial off the shelf product called Caregiver Record Management Application (CARMA) beginning in October 2019. VA will deploy phase two in January 2020 to centralize and automate stipend payment calculations and expects to deploy phase three in the summer of 2020, which will enable caregivers to apply for benefits online. VA will then perform testing and verify that the system has full functionality before expanding the program as required under the MISSION Act. The expansion will occur in two phases, beginning in the summer of 2020 or once the Secretary has certified that the new IT system is fully implemented. In the first phase, PCAFC will be expanded to eligible Veterans who incurred or aggravated a serious injury in the line of duty on or before May 7, 1975. The final phase of the expansion will begin two years later. It will expand PCAFC to eligible Veterans who incurred or aggravated a serious injury in the line of duty after May 7, 1975 through September 10, 2001. Additionally, VA has gathered input and is developing regulatory changes to streamline the program and provide more clarity for Veterans and their family caregivers. VA will publish a proposed rule for public comment prior to issuing final regulations. VA is also working across the department to ensure caregivers have a positive experience through program improvements and initiatives to include:

• Providing home and community-based care alternatives through the Choose Home Initiative at 21 VA medical centers.

• Establishing the Center for Excellence for Veteran and Caregiver Research named after Senator Elizabeth Dole.

• Expanding telehealth services to enable Veterans and their caregivers to get care in the comfort of their homes.

• Delivering valuable programs for caregivers such as peer support mentoring, a Caregiver Support Line, self-care courses and educational programs to help caregivers succeed.

Caregivers play a critical role in enabling Veterans to maintain their highest level of independence and remain in their homes and communities for as long as possible. VA leads the nation in providing unprecedented benefits and services to caregivers. The MISSION Act strengthens VA’s ability to serve as a trusted partner in the care of our nation’s most vulnerable Veterans. To learn more about the many support services available for caregivers of Veterans, visit or call the Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274. 

Atlanta veterans hospital suspends routine surgeries amid problems

The Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center has sharply reduced surgeries as it overhauls operations, the latest sign of significant troubles at the hospital for the area’s military veterans. The Decatur facility stopped performing routine surgeries because of serious problems involving medical procedures, two employees told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. One cited management and equipment issues including shortages in sterilized equipment and sutures, staff not showing up on time and veterans canceling at the last minute. Both employees spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Only emergency surgeries have been performed since Sept. 23, and normal operations aren’t expected to resume until the end of October.

The lengthy layoff will add more wait time for veterans. Surgery dates at the hospital already can take three months or more, according to two other hospital employees, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity. The VA confirmed to the AJC that operations have been scaled back, but didn’t share specifics behind the decision.  “Atlanta VA Health Care System is committed to continuously improving patient safety,” the hospital wrote in an email. “That’s why the facility’s leadership made the decision … to temporarily reduce the number of Veterans treated for elective cases until the end of October, when the facility’s operating rooms will begin phasing in additional cases.”

Elective cases are regularly scheduled surgeries. Hospital staff can still perform emergency surgery.

he VA said between Sept. 23 and Oct. 10 it rescheduled or sent out 100 patients to non-VA facilities. The hospital has performed 130 surgeries. The VA said surgical staff will spend a month training and reviewing procedures, practices and policies.  The Atlanta hospital has been wracked by problems for years. It posted a one-star score last year in the VA’s hospital rating system, the lowest-possible score.  It also reported the most difficulty of 140 medical facilities in recruiting workers, with doctors and nurses topping the list, according to a September VA inspector general’s report.  

One of the employees told the AJC this week that shortages keep some doctors and nurses working 10 to 12 hours a day and still not being able to get all their work done.  Suspending routine surgeries for a month is highly unusual, according to medical experts.  “Even a week would be out of the ordinary,” said John Gialanella, co-founder of Surgery Management Improvement Group, a Michigan business that consults nationally on setting up and managing surgical units.

Dr. Westley Clark, a psychiatrist who worked with private hospitals and for the VA for 14 years in California, said he has never heard of shutting down an operating unit for a month.  It’s good they had the courage to shut down and deal with the issues, but it’s bad that the problem reached a point that needs a month to fix, said Clark, who teaches public health policy at Santa Clara University and serves on the advisory board of the Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute. 

The VA complex in Atlanta drew national attention early last month when Joel Marrable, a veteran dying from cancer, was found by his daughter covered in ant bites.  On Sept. 16, national leaders put regional director Leslie Wiggins on administrative leave. The regional medical director, Dr. Arjay K. Dhawan, was assigned to administrative duties pending a review of quality and safety of care issues. Seven staff members were reassigned to non-patient care.  The interim regional director, Scott Isaacks, was assigned from a VA hospital in Charleston that posted four- and five-star scores in recent years. Five is the highest score in the system.  "Studies have shown—and veterans organizations strongly concur—that outdoor recreational activities can provide powerful therapeutic and healing benefits as well as camaraderie for veterans struggling with combat-related injuries or post-traumatic stress," said Smith in a statement. "We should be thinking outside-the-box to discover as many ways as possible to help veterans, and opening up federal lands and removing barriers to access for remedial outdoor recreation is a no-brainer. My legislation would help increase access to this treatment option."


Naples already organizes fishing trips for veterans throught the Take A Soldier Fishing group. Contact them to join a boat for the day. Become a captain and share your backwater fishing boat to introduce saltwater fly fishing with conventional baitcasting fishermen. Learn more about saltwater fly fishing through the local club, Backcountry Fly Fishers.

Support for Servicemen comes in many forms. Consider these charities when reaching out to veterans.

Dozens of charities have risen in the wake of starting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of Servicemen from America and its coalition of the willing have been severely injured by combat.  It comes at great expense to the military hospitals as well as the victims.  Once Servicemen are medically discharged or retired, the costs of care and recovery are overwhelming.  Veterans have no means to pay for all their needs once they are civilians.  The following list includes groups that improve Servicemen's severely injured quality of life.  They live up to our philosophy of "Service before Self".  

1.  Hope For The Warriors           

2.  Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

3.  United Service Organization             

4.  Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society

5.  Wounded Warriors Family Support    

6.  Puppies Behind Bars

7.  Homes For Our Troops                    

8.  Thanks USA

9.  Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust

10.  Fisher House Foundation                

11.  Collier County Veterans Council!

Several organizations have risen to the challenge of caring for veterans after seeing so many fall through the cracks.

Empathetic young men have invented treatments for struggling veterans who carry the scars of war with them every day.  Private companies have stepped forward help veterans where the VA, public services, and private doctors have come up short.  They address different issues, but the esprit de corps remains the same.  Groups trying to pick up the pieces of shattered lives include:

The Raider Project

22 Kill

Gallant Few

Hooves For Heroes

The Darby Project

Silkies Hike

The Oscar Mike Foundation


Operations Strides



One piece of the veteran recovery process is the need for affiliation.  A Silkie's Hike is really fun, but only lasts a short time.  A more enduring treatment is the continuous relationship with peers at the gym.  Lift For The 22 is a program that raises money for veterans in order to get them off the couch, out of the house, and out of their vicious cycle of depression.  Reaching out to veterans by inviting them to the gym is a great solution for both finding your own gym partner and soothing the pain OIF/OEF vets feel.  

"In March of 2015 Lift For The 22 began as a hashtag social media movement designed to encourage service members to connect and support one another in gym's all over the nation. Specifically, the program addresses the broken transitional system and aims to limit veteran struggles thereby limiting veteran suicides. After being contacted by a local gym owner, the Lift For The 22 movement became more than a hashtag, but rather a movement to provide veterans with one-year gym memberships across the country. On July 23rd 2015 Lift For The 22 provided the first 3 veterans of the program with one-year gym memberships at Workout Anytime in Beaverton Oregon. Since July 2015, over 300 Veterans have now received one-year gym memberships in a growing movement to end veteran suicide through transitional support. The Lift For The 22 program is all about having an outlet, building yourself up, and then being connected with a peer-to-peer support network of veterans who assist one another in the transition from military service. "


Georgia Aquarium's Veteran Immersion Program

Georgia Aquarium is committed to serving the brave men and women, active and retired, who have served us. As a thank you for their incredible service, Georgia Aquarium developed the Veterans Immersion Program in 2008 as a way to support the wounded heroes in our armed forces.

The Veterans Council & American Red Cross Care Package Program

The Veterans Council of Collier County & the American Red Cross of Collier County are working together to support the needs of our soldiers overseas. The Red Cross will send our Care Packages to individuals in the military through their system, which is quicker and better than send them through regular mail. Several of our local churches and civic groups already have programs in place to start assembling these Care Packages, we just need names & addresses of soldiers to send them to.

Typical Care Packages will include:

• Stationery (Letter Paper & Envelopes)
• Stamps
• Batteries
• Pens & Pencils
• Disposable Razors
• Matches
• Playing Cards
• Deodorant
• Toothbrushes & Toothpaste
• Baby Wipes / Cleaning Wipes
• Clearasil / Stridex Pads
• Rolaids
• Hard Candies
• Coffee and Hot Chocolate Pouches


You can also mail your donation to:

Veterans Council of Collier County

Attn: Chief William Carl, President

527 107th Ave N

Naples, FL 34108

Please make checks payable to the Veterans Council of Collier County.

Collier County Veterans Council is registered with the IRS as a 301C non-profit organization. All donations will receive acknowledgement via phone, e-mail or letter.

Veterans verify their service to employers and agencies. 

Government agencies and non-profits, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Hiring Our Heroes initiative use to enhance individual access to benefits and services and prevent fraud through strong identity verification services.

Over 400 of your favorite brands, such as Under Armour, SeaWorld and Verizon, use’s verification technology to offer exclusive discounts to members of the following communities: Military, Students, First Responders, Teachers and Government Employees.

Dept. of Veterans Affairs is preparing a plan to address veteran suicide

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the White House Domestic Policy Council hosted an innovation summit Sept. 23 as part of The President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End the National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) task force. The summit brought together more than 100 leading researchers, clinicians, innovators and decision makers to discuss research on public health solutions to end Veteran suicide. The interagency group is charged with implementing a roadmap for Veteran suicide prevention at the national and community levels by March 2020. “Collaboration and research are integral parts of VA’s public health approach to suicide prevention,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “The work of the PREVENTS task force, like this summit, move us closer to solving the problems that lead to suicide and ultimately finding an end to Veteran suicide.” Held during Suicide Prevention Month, the summit provided a unique opportunity for public and private sector collaboration — to research and explore innovative ways to reach Veterans in crisis — and provide them with support in their communities. A request for information that went out in August generated a wealth of ideas and elicited new insights for developing a national research strategy to end Veteran suicide. Those results will be compiled into action items as part of President Donald Trump’s March 5, Executive Order establishing the PREVENTS task force in June. Suicide is a complex national public health issue that affects communities nationwide, with more than 45,000 Americans — including more than 6,000 Veterans — dying by suicide every year. The summit strengthened public-private partnerships that will identify gaps in the current suicide research environment and implement ideas to fill them. Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a Veteran in crisis, can call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call 800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at

Transitioning from our military careers to the civilian world is a struggle for many.  The nightmares of combat have lingering and withering effects.  The first peer-reviewed and published national study of civic service among U.S. vets who served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan found volunteering improved their health and social life.

11 Free Programs to Help Veterans Succeed as Entrepreneurs

Veteran-owned businesses are an important engine of economic growth. New research from Experian has found that veterans tend to own and operate business with a larger employee base, and veteran-owned businesses have better longevity and sustainability than non veteran-owned business. (Experian analyzed and compared the credit data of veteran-owned businesses and non-veteran-owned businesses from 2015 through July 2019.) 

Nearly 25% of veterans express interest in starting a business. That’s the good news. The bad news is entrepreneurship among younger veterans is on the decline. A report by Bunker Labs suggests one way to foster veteran entrepreneurship is through an “ecosystem” approach: “Taking an ecosystem approach to facilitating entrepreneurship requires ensuring that there is relationship density, strong network effects, and connected resources for entrepreneurs.” 

Where to Find Us:

CCVC Board of Directors


Chief William Carl (President)



Cpt Torrey V. Searles

(Vice President)


Cpt Jim Albert (2nd Vice President)


LCDR John E. Hogan



Cpt Jack Fulmer (Safety Officer)


CSM James Reginald Burch (Sergeant at Arms)


SSgt Erica Florio

(Public Relations Officer)


Cpl Jessica Lee Dang (Secretary)



A1C Jordan Tompkins

(Operations Officer)


SFC Jesse Meyers

(Assistant Operations Officer)


LTC Michael Knutson (Chaplain)


Non-voting Members:

Cpl Ted Moore (Technical Specialist)


Joan Mary Madonna (Secretary's Assistant)


Website Email:



Please complete the online application form.   

"Voting" Memberships are only open to members of the Board of Directors. If you do not fit in this category, please check the "Associate Member" box. 
Then, mail your annual membership dues to our mailing address:


Collier County Veterans Council

527 107th Ave N

Naples, FL 34108


Mail the dues there. Applications may also be handed to the Treasurer before the monthly meeting.


You will be contacted once your application has been registered.  If you would like to publicly introduce yourself to the members of the Council, please contact us to have your name placed on the upcoming meeting agenda. If you have immediate business for our attention, we will add your issue to the agenda as well.    




Veteran Suicide Prevention

If you, or a veteran you know, may be thinking of contemplating suicide please call The Veterans Crisis Hotline at:

1-800-273-8255 and Press 1

or go to their website at:


Helpful Suicide education is also provided here.


"In all you do, do with all your might. Things done by half measures are never done right."


The Veterans Council of Collier County is the umbrella organization of the 20 veterans groups that exist in Collier County, Florida.

The Veterans Council is comprised of representatives from each group and meets the 3rd Wednesday of each month.


We bring all groups together for networking and fellowship in an otherwise fragmented community.  We each have our allegiances, but are fighting the same battle.  United we stand.

Meetings are open to all veterans.


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