By Cindy Cummings
Florida has always been a place where veterans come to settle. USA Today reports that the state ranks third in the national rankings, with 1.44 million veterans calling Florida home. In Apopka and the surrounding areas, a lot is done to honor these heroes; the Apopka Amphitheater most recently hosted a blowout event to honor veterans and first responders. While these shows are a huge part of making veterans feel safe and welcome, there is arguably more that can be done to benefit the day-to-day lives of veterans and make them feel more secure in Apopka.
Apopka is seeing huge movement when it comes to residential developments. The Orlando Business Journal put this into clear focus with their report on the Binion Road and Ascend Oakpointe projects, which will put a further 420 apartments into the local ecosystem. There are hopes that veterans may be able to get their hands on some of these new developments. Veteran homelessness is a crisis at a national level; veterans represent 11% of the national homeless population. Through services like VA loans and housing programs, veterans have options, but it requires open-mindedness and cooperation from local businesses and realtors to ensure that they find themselves in good quality accommodation.
Of course, a paid-up home is unlikely to be maintained without employment. The USA is, of course, experiencing long-term unemployment, yet this has disproportionately impacted veterans. Government statistics indicate that 6.5% of veterans are out of work; above the national average. The Apopka and Central Florida area has done more for veterans in this regard. The Veterans Job Fair was highlighted in the Orlando Sentinel as one way in which jobs are being extended out to veterans. Given the broad set of skills and workplace ethics that veterans often build during active service, there is a huge skills gap that they could help to fill if employers want to do more.
Apopka does a lot already, and it’s doing good work in getting medical care extended to its veterans, too. Click Orlando noted how Orlando area VA hospitals were among the first to secure and deliver the COVID-19 vaccine for veterans. This ties in with greater levels of healthcare, and greater quality of care in general, that is being rolled out across the state and the region. This is good news for veterans, and makes Apopka an even more desirable place to live, even aside from the opportunities for jobs and property that are being provided.
This, in turn, will show veterans that Apopka and its community cares. As a city, Apopka has a lot to owe to veterans, both in terms of their active service and how they contribute to the workforce and community. Honoring veterans starts with the tributes and signs that everyday citizens can provide to show their respect; but they must be continued with real action, from lawmakers, businesses and the community, to show how valued they are.
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