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Two Florida veterans have dedicated their lives to supporting fellow veterans

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Two Florida veterans, Lorraine Holland and Daila Espeut-Jones, are working to support anyone who's ever served in the armed forces. They work with over ten veterans organizations to reach those who may not even realize the benefits they’re entitled to. “It is my job to reach out and touch each and every one of our veterans who are out there that needs help,” says Espeut-Jones, who was recognized for her work in the 2020 Florida Veterans Hall of Fame. 

VA disability benefits

Holland works with the Military Officers Association of America, an organization dedicated to protecting the rights of military officers and their families. “Our big push for MOAA this year is to get legislation, just like they did with Agent Orange for the Vietnam veterans, to cover the veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, to make sure that they get their VA benefits that cover for disability,” says Holland. “We’re going to be doing some town halls coming up this year to recognize not only the Vietnam veterans, but they’ve asked to recognize those veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq with the toxic exposure, the burn pits, so we’re gonna go full-fledge on town halls all throughout the state of Florida.” For veterans who became sick or injured while serving in the military, compensation is available. Disability compensation rates are determined by a percentage rating assigned to each disability claimed - veterans can find the VA’s disability calculator here

Helping female veterans

Holland is also part of a committee which recently published a report on the challenges faced by female veterans, including a lack of VA women's health primary care providers and insufficient help and resources to support women readjust to civilian life. 14 issues along with their potential solutions have been highlighted. Moreover, Holland is working to provide support to all female veterans in need. “We’re trying to reach those women that just don’t seem to connect to be veteran, and make sure that they get the benefits they’ve earned, whether it’s through the VA or some other organization,” says Holland. 

Raising awareness 

Espeut-Jones does similar work. “My goal for the veterans of Central Florida is to get the benefits that they so deserve”, she says. “The goal, again, is to ensure that they understand that there are people out there who want to assist because there are several folks who do not have a college degree, and they have benefits that you know, they know nothing about that they should receive to go back to school”. In particular, Espeut-Jones strives to educate veterans on the benefits they’re entitled to. “There are so many veterans out there who feel as though that even though they served, those benefits are not theirs, because it should go to someone else. But the uniqueness about it is you serve, that is your benefit. No one else can take that away from you.” 
 
Although both Holland and Espeut-Jones have their work cut out for them, they both say it’s worth it. “I can’t tell you, I can’t put it in words, the satisfaction I get, seeing that through me, I can affect other people and getting their benefits and having a better life and having a life that they’ve earned,” comments Holland.
 
 
Veterans, Florida, Veteran Benefits, How do I get all my benefits as a veteran? Women Veterans, Health, Military Officers Association of America, Afghanistan, Iraq, Burn Pits, Agent Orange

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