Showing posts with label Sarasota FL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sarasota FL. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Veteran Navy Corpsman returned home to shocking event

Veteran surprised with thousands of Christmas lights, decorations

FOX 13 News
By Kimberly Kuizon
December 4, 2019

SARASOTA, Fla. - A local veteran got quite the surprise when he returned home to find his house totally decorated for Christmas on Tuesday.

Volunteers with Florida Power & Light decorated veteran Chris Scott's home with thousands of lights. After untangling all the lights and preparing a big surprise, Chris and his family arrived.
Chris served eight years as a fleet marine force corpsman attached to the 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines. In 2008, he'd been injured in Iraq, but he continued serving. He was deployed to Afghanistan and Haiti before he medically retired in 2012.

For the last two years, he's fought stage three lymphoma cancer. He's now clear, but putting up Christmas decorations can be a difficult task.

"They wanted to get lights up so we were going to start to try and work on it this week. I haven't been feeling too good lately so this is helps out a lot," he said.

Volunteers didn't disappoint, making sure their house shines bright.
read it here

Monday, March 11, 2019

Sarasota National Cemetery honors unclaimed veterans

Veterans with no family are laid to rest at Sarasota National Cemetery

By Kamara Daughtry
March 10, 2019

SARASOTA (WWSB) - The Sarasota National Cemetery holds “Unclaimed Veteran” services once a week to honor those who’ve served our country.

A Veterans Affairs pension or other compensation is no longer a pre-requisite for “Unclaimed Veterans” to receive burial benefits. Unclaimed veterans are defined as those who die with no next of kin to claim their remains and insufficient funds to cover burial expenses.

ABC 7 covered the event Facebook live to show residents on Thurs. March 7, around 11:30 a.m., on volunteers around the Suncoast who paid their respects. The Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus organization came together to lay two Marines to rest, one soldier and one airman.

The Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus ensures that the veterans have a proper burial at no cost.

John Rosentrater, Director of the Sarasota National Cemetery told ABC7 burials occur at least once a week and veterans from all over the Suncoast come to the service and accept the flag as their “kin.”

A funeral home usually contacts the National Cemetery when an unclaimed veteran needs to be laid to rest and is reimbursed for their efforts. The PDF document listed here shows the Unclaimed Veteran Remains Casket or Urn Reimbursement Program.

For more information about the Sarasota National Cemetery contact (941) 922-7200.
go here for video report

Sunday, November 4, 2018

How are Manatee County’s 35,000 Veterans days?

University study that aims to identify well being of Manatee County veterans could be a game changer

Bradenton Herald
November 03, 2018
“The Veterans Administration provides very generic data on a county level — age, gender and branch of service — but we know very little about their employment status, physical and mental health, education level, relationships or their living environments,” Hodges said in a press release.

Manatee County’s 35,000 veterans have an opportunity to anonymously participate in a first-of-its-kind study of their well being by the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.

An online survey recently went live, seeking information on veterans’ physical and mental health, employment history, relationships and lifestyle.

Vets will also be able to participate in study at Manatee County’s primary Veterans Day observance Sunday, Nov. 11, at Palmetto’s Lamb Park.

“The study should be completed by summer of 2019. We want to touch all the areas related to veterans. We will use it as a major tool for organizations to focus on the needs that veterans have,” said Carl Hunsinger, chairman of the Manatee County Veterans Council.

Collaborating on the USFSM study of veterans’ well being are Eric Hodges, a professor of interdisciplinary social science, Thomas Becker, a business professor, and Ramakrishna Govindu, an instructor of information systems and decision sciences.
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Monday, April 30, 2018

Officer Andre Jenkins sent the last "10-7" after 30 years

See tearful moment Florida officer signs off for retirement after 30 years
ABC News
Apr 30, 2018

The cameras were rolling over the weekend as a veteran Florida police officer broke into tears while finishing the last patrol before his retirement.
Officer Andre Jenkins, a 30-year veteran with the Sarasota Police Department in central Florida, got emotional on Saturday as he sent the last "10-7," out of service message, of his long career in law enforcement, according to video released by the department.

“This will be my last transmission on the radio,” Jenkins says, while sitting in the driver’s seat of a police cruiser. “I’d like to thank all my SPD family for the last 30 years of being by my side.
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Monday, March 23, 2015

Veterans Court May Provide Intervention in Florida

Veterans court would provide intervention for troubled vets in Manatee-Sarasota
Bradenton Herald
March 22, 2015

MANATEE -- A delegation from Bradenton-Sarasota visiting veterans court Monday in Pinellas County can expect to see a court proceeding that is unique, emotional and even uplifting.

Those who have watched Judge Dee Anna Farnell preside at veterans court describe her as passionate in her desire to help troubled vets overwhelmed by psychological and physical wounds suffered while in service to their country.

"She is a very dynamic person. She comes off the bench and stands next to the veteran," said Patrick Diggs, who serves as a justice-outreach coordinator for Bay Pines Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.

"It takes a special type of judge to facilitate the delicate balance between compassion, helping the veteran and public safety," Diggs said.

State Attorney Ed Brodsky of the 12th Judicial Circuit wants to explore launching veterans court in Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties as a way of helping vets who honorably served the United States, and may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, homelessness and unemployment. Veterans court would be keyed to nonviolent offenders who pose a threat to themselves but not society.
read more here

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sarasota Veterans Community Joins Forces for Afghanistan Veteran

Veteran with PTSD needs new home for dog
FOX 13 News
By: Crystal Clark
Mar 18, 2015
SARASOTA (FOX 13) - A veteran in Sarasota battling PTSD must now let go of the dog he rescued in Afghanistan to undergo treatment.

A non-profit organization in St. Petersburg hopes to find the dog a new, permanent home.

Kathy Smith, Founder of Dog Tag Heroes, was contacted by a Vietnam War veteran in Sarasota through her Pet Foster Car Program.

The veteran told her about a young soldier who recently returned from Afghanistan.

He is being treated in Sarasota for severe emotional Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The soldier's condition is said to be so severe, he will likely by institutionalized for an indefinite period of time, leaving the dog he raised in Afghanistan and brought back to the states without a caregiver.

"We really want to find a good home for this dog and not let this dog end up in a kennel," said Smith.

According to Smith, the dog is currently in the care of a foster mom in Sarasota.

Smith has made helping veterans her mission in life since her husband, Dennis, a veteran of the Navy, died in 2006 from the effects of Agent Orange.
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Monday, February 16, 2015

Boston VA Error Delayed Florida Veteran's Burial

VA error delays Palmetto veteran’s funeral, angers family
Tampa Tribune
Howard Altman
Tribune Staff
February 11, 2015

When the family of Korean War veteran Willie Mitchell Jr, went to bury the Palmetto man, who died Jan. 25 at age 81, their sorrow was compounded by shocking news.

Mitchell could not be laid to rest at Sarasota National Cemetery as planned, because when the family tried to schedule a burial they were told he died more than six years ago.

The error, it turned out, was the result of a Department of Veterans Affairs employee at the Boston regional office inputting the wrong Social Security number, giving a man who died in 2008 the same number as Mitchell, according to Michael Nacincik, spokesman for the VA’s National Cemetery Administration, which oversees burials at national cemeteries.

Mitchell, who served in the Army, is now scheduled to be buried at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Sarasota cemetery, but his family is upset over the ordeal.

“We are angry that we have to go through this all over again,” Brian Mitchell, of Tampa, said about having to rearrange his father’s funeral. The family is also upset that it took a call from a reporter to get a straight answer.

“No one contacted us to tell us what happened,” Brian Mitchell said.

Nacincik, in an email to The Tampa Tribune, apologized “for the inconvenience and additional stress to the family caused by extended time it took for us to determine burial eligibility. We are thankful for Mr. Mitchell’s service to our nation and are honored to provide him the burial he deserves this Friday at Sarasota National Cemetery in Florida.”
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Naval Recruit Andrew Adams Died After Training

Naval recruit dies one day after completing training
"Recruit Andrew Adams, 20 years old, of Sarasota, Fla passed out and hit his head," said Lt. Matt Comer, spokesman for Naval Service Training Command at Great Lakes.
By Danielle Haynes
Dec. 3, 2014

Naval recruit Andrew Adams.
Photo courtesy the U.S. Navy.

GREAT LAKES, Ill., Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy is investigating the death of a 20-year-old recruit who died Monday one day after completing his training.

Andrew Adams was undergoing training at Naval Service Training Command at Great Lakes at the time of his death.

"Recruit Andrew Adams, 20 years old, of Sarasota, Fla passed out and hit his head," said Lt. Matt Comer, spokesman for Naval Service Training Command at Great Lakes. "His recruit division commander responded with first aid until medical personnel could arrive, but neither could not revive the recruit."
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Friday, November 21, 2014

10,000 Wreaths For Sarasota National Cemetery

10,000 holiday wreaths to be placed on graves at Sarasota National Cemetery
Bradenton Herald
November 21, 2014
Wreaths Across America holiday wreath-laying ceremonies have been held at Sarasota National Cemetery since its opening in 2009. Next month, Sarasota Military Academy students and local veterans will place the wreaths on Dec. 13, starting at 9:30 a.m., followed by a ceremony at 11:30 a.m. FILE PHOTO
BRADENTON -- Last year, 6,300 holiday wreaths were placed on grave sites at Sarasota National Cemetery.

This year, 10,000 will be needed to decorate each of the final resting places for veterans there.

Don Courtney, president of the Manatee Veterans Council, updated the group at the monthly meeting Thursday.

Sarasota National Cemetery opened in January 2009 and averages about 10 funeral services a day. Among the

Notable veterans at rest there is Tampa's Rick Casares, who served in the Army. Mr. Casares died last year. He was a star fullback at the University of Florida and played 12 years in the NFL with the Chicago Bears, Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins.

Sarasota Military Academy students and local veterans will place the wreaths starting at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 13, followed by a ceremony at 11:30 a.m.
read more here

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sarasota Police Officers Volunteer to help disabled veteran

Sarasota police work on house for Brandon veteran staff
Published: February 13, 2014

Ten Sarasota police officers volunteered last weekend to work on a home for a retired Brandon soldier, an injured veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, so she can be closer to her job.

“I’m so grateful to all the members of law enforcement who helped out. I appreciate it so much,” said Sgt. Tia McCants of the house being built by Habitat for Humanity Sarasota. “They did so well, I didn’t know we were going to get as much accomplished as well did.”

McCants, who has a degree from the University of South Florida in social work, joined the Army in 2008 and served more than four years in the Army’s language school where she became fluent in Farsi, according to a release from the Sarasota Police Department. During one of the tours, she was riding in a convoy when her vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. The blast injured her shoulder and gave her a concussion that left her with lingering headaches. The injury cut short her service.
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Monday, December 23, 2013

From Sarasota, to Afghanistan, to New York City TV studio

From Sarasota, to Afghanistan, to New York City TV studio
Herald Tribune
By Josh Salman
Published: Monday, December 23, 2013
John Wilcher, an agent with DWELL Real Estate in Sarasota, was flown to New York City to meet with the star of Bravo TV's "Million Dollar Listing," Fredrik Eklund.

SARASOTA - As John Wilcher laid sleepless in his Army bunk not far from areas of Afghanistan pockmarked by bombings, he could think only of a promise he had made his daughter two years earlier.

Wilcher didn't know if he would ever see his family again -- but he had vowed to his little girl he would return home safely.

Now a Realtor in Sarasota, his combat deployment stands in stark contrast to a recent crowning achievement.

Nearly penniless after the real estate market collapsed in 2007, Wilcher turned to the Armed Forces as a way to support his family.

But his story after his return also propelled him to the top of a global contest that sent him to New York City this month to meet the star of Bravo's reality TV series "Million Dollar Listing" -- Wilcher's hero in the business.

"I laid it on thick and just told my story," Wilcher said. "Hundreds and hundreds of people applied -- and I was one of about 20 to be selected."

Wilcher began his career in law enforcement, working as a police officer in Lexington, Ken. There, he was involved in the largest crack cocaine arrest in the city's history and spent time undercover for both the Drug Enforcement Agency and U.S. Marshall Service.

He moved to Florida with his girlfriend -- now his wife -- in 2001 to forge a life in Sarasota.
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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Former Camp Lejeune Marine wins fight with VA over cancer

Former Marine wins fight with VA over cancer
By Donna Koehn
Published: Saturday, April 13, 2013

SARASOTA - An exuberant Tom Gervasi, 76, put his arms in the air, his fingers forming a “V for Victory.”

The former Marine learned Saturday — to his utter surprise — that his long, often bitter fight with his own government is done.

A letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed it: The cancer invading his bones was caused by his exposure to contaminated water as a young Marine at Camp Lejeune.

Tom is dying of breast cancer, so rare in men that only one in 1,000 will develop it in his lifetime.

The tale of his struggle, chockablock with emotional highs and lows, began when Elaine, his wife of 57 years, first spotted an unusual dimpling in Tom's left breast as he stood shirtless back in 2003.
read more here

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Free Legal Consultations for Florida Veterans Fighting VA

Bergmann and Moore Holds Veteran Workshop in Sarasota
Free Legal Consultations for Veterans Fighting VA

Washington, DC – Bergmann and Moore, a law firm focusing on appealed Veterans’ disability claims, scheduled a Veteran workshop for Sarasota on Friday, January 25. Our workshops are free and open to the public. We provide free consultations for Veterans and family members who fighting the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for disability compensation. The Workshop is held in cooperation with Florida Veterans for Common Sense.
Friday, January 25
9 AM to Noon
Disabled American Veterans Post 97
7177 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota

If a Veteran has filed a disability claim against VA and disagrees with VA’s decision, then Veterans are encouraged to attend our free workshop. Veterans are asked to bring their most recent VA decision with them as part of our free consultation. Florida Veterans for Common Sense, the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and Sarasota County Veterans Services will be on hand providing services.

Bergmann and Moore, LLC, based in the Washington, DC metro area, concentrates only on Veterans disability benefits law. We handle Veterans’ cases at all levels, including appeals at VA’s Regional Office in St. Petersburg, VA’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington, DC, and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, also in Washington, DC. For more information, please call (877) 838-2889.

Bergmann and Moore has helped thousands of Veterans and their families obtain the maximum VA benefits they are entitled to receive. Bergmann and Moore offers a free legal consultation concerning VA disability claims for PTSD. We gladly welcome all types of claims, including PTSD, military sexual trauma cases, and unemployability. 2013 (301) 290-3131

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Marine Reservist survived Iraq but not carjacking back home

Shooting victim served in Iraq

By Todd Ruger

Published: Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 25, 2008 at 10:11 p.m.
SARASOTA - Delvis Fernandez served eight months with the Marine Reserves in Iraq, often manning a 50-caliber gun on the lead car in dangerous supply convoys.

The 2005 Booker High School graduate returned home to Sarasota in April, where he rejoined his minor league football team and enrolled in classes to prepare for a career in the Sarasota Police Department.

But on his way home from class Friday afternoon, Fernandez, 21, was shot and killed in what police believe was a carjacking in the parking lot of a Newtown convenience store.

"It was in broad daylight for no apparent reason," said Orlando Pacheco, who roomed with Fernandez in Iraq. "We're just in shock right now. It was just like any other day."

Fernandez died at Sarasota Memorial Hospital on Friday, the day before the final tryouts for the Sarasota Millionaires, a football team that he also used as a conduit to to volunteer in the community.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Paul Sullivan and Juan Cole coming to Sarasota FL

You're Invited: Paul Sullivan and Juan Cole Address Florida VCS on October 4 in Sarasota

Veterans for Common Sense

Sep 19, 2008

Dr. Juan Cole, a foremost authority on the Middle East, and Paul Sullivan, the Executive Director of Veterans for Common Sense, will speak to the public in Sarasota, Florida on October 4. The event is sponsored by Florida Veterans for Common Sense (FLVCS), Florida Consumer Action Network (FCAN), and Veterans for Common Sense (VCS). The public is invited.

Click here for Tickets, or go to this web site:
minimum suggested donation is $10, please.

Dr. Cole has often appeared in print and national television as a commentator on the Middle East and has published peer reviewed books on the Middle East. He has testified before the United States Senate and is the former editor of The International Journal of Middle East Studies. He is President of the Middle East Studies Association of North America. In 2006, he received the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism administered by Hunter College. His blog, Informed Comment, averages 25,000 hits per day. His latest book is Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East.

Paul Sullivan regularly testifies before Congress and appears in the press as a leading advocate for veterans' healthcare, disability benefits, and voting rights. Veterans for Common Sense worked with ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff to break the news in February 2007 that the Department of Veterans Affairs was treating hundreds of thousands of veteran patients from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. VCS worked with CBS Evening News investigative reporters to uncover the growing suicide epidemic among Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. For more information about the impact of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on America, please read The Three Trillion Dollar War by Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes.

Professor Cole will sign books after the Question and Answer session. And Paul Sullivan will release new statistics about the impact of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on the Department of Defense and VA.

Tickets: Minimum suggested donation is $10. Call Julian Koss (941) 923-9280 or go to the FCAN web site:

When: Saturday, October 4, 2008, 7:00 PM

Where: 2896 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota (Potter Building) (Three buildings west of Robarts Arena off Fruitville Road, Sarasota)

Speakers: Juan Cole and Paul Sullivan
Sponsors: FCAN, FLVCS, and VCS

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Shafted and shafted again, Iraq veteran, homeless, PTSD, dishonorable discharge and it gets worse

Rewards are lacking for a local veteran

Published: Tuesday, September 9, 2008 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 8, 2008 at 9:10 p.m.
The story of a homeless Iraq war veteran who helped Sarasota police catch a prison escapee, and who now says he's being shorted on the reward money, is really a bigger story.

But let's keep this simple.

Forget about Earl Coffey coming back from combat in Iraq prone to self-medicate to escape flashbacks, often about the day he shot an enemy who turned out to be just an unarmed Iraqi child.

And forget about Coffey's Army court martial and prison sentence for looting many thousands of dollars he and another soldier found in a Baghdad palace. Forget how his less-than-honorable discharge cost him his veteran benefits, which he could really use now that he's a damaged and homeless former soldier.

He has since spent time in jail in Sarasota for trying to sell stolen property. Some life.

Herald-Tribune reporter Billy Cox wrote all about this stuff back in May.

It is just too complicated to even guess who is or should be responsible for what, and what could or should be done to help the man.
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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Drug trials:Had a nice trip. Wish you could, too.

Had a nice trip. Wish you could, too.

By Billy Cox

Published: Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 12:51 a.m.
SARASOTA - Unlike graying peers who refuse to acknowledge youthful drug use, Rick Doblin celebrates his. He will tell crowds of strangers about the dizzy days of tripping on acid and getting arrested for swimming naked at his alma mater, New College, in the 1970s.

He 'fesses up to dropping out his freshman year in pursuit of truth through psychedelics. He will tell them that the cedar-and-granite Sarasota home he built three decades ago -- described by Rolling Stone magazine as a "Frank Lloyd Wright on acid design" -- was conceived to enhance the experience. He endorses the aboriginal bonding traditions of parents sharing psychedelic drugs with their children.

To be sure, at 55, the controversial drug reform activist has graduated into the sobering realities of middle age. But with the first wave of baby boomers edging closer to the shadow of America's average lifespan of 78 years, Doblin is racing the clock to drag a great taboo out of the closet and into the light of mainstream science.

Working within the system, in a shift that would have been unthinkable during the Just Say No era 20 years ago, Doblin and the benefactors to his nonprofit initiative have persuaded the Food and Drug Administration to revoke its ban on testing psychotropic agents for medicinal purposes.

Today, no less than four clinical studies involving Ecstasy, or MDMA, and psilocybin, the mindbending ingredient of "magic mushrooms," are being monitored by the FDA. Among their potential remedies: helping war veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and easing end-of-life anxieties for the terminally ill.
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Saturday, July 12, 2008

McDonald's invaders turn out to be police

McDonald's invaders turn out to be police
Sarasota officers stormed restaurant to nab drug suspect
By Anthony Cormier
Published Saturday, July 12, 2008 at 4:30 a.m.
Last updated Friday, July 11, 2008 at 11:20 p.m.

SARASOTA — Undercover police officers stormed a McDonald's restaurant and ordered diners and employees to the ground as they tried to catch a suspected cocaine dealer Thursday.

The Sarasota police officers were dressed in black, carried rifles and wore masks when they ran into the restaurant on the corner of Beneva and Fruitville roads. They burst through the door at dinner time, yelled for patrons to hide under tables and chased a 24-year-old man who hid in a bathroom.

It was a drug sting that went bad because of a milkshake.

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Can you imagine the trauma the customers and employees went through?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Pfc. puts life in shambles by taking war spoils

Pfc. puts life in shambles by taking war spoils

By Billy Cox - Special to the Times

Posted : Saturday Jul 5, 2008 7:26:12 EDT

SARASOTA, Fla. -- After nearly three weeks of desert combat and enough death to jangle his brain for a lifetime, Pfc. Earl Coffey arrived in Baghdad in April 2003 thinking he had discovered an oasis.

It was Palace Row, one of the most exclusive tracts of real estate in Iraq, and not even major bomb damage could dim the luster of a tyrant's decadence. Coffey was among the first U.S. troops to secure Saddam Hussein's inner sanctum, the postwar "Green Zone" now hosting diplomats and government authorities. Its allure was intoxicating.

Coffey recalled his awe at seeing gold-rimmed toilet seats, 30-foot wide chandeliers, and Swarovski crystal collections. Over the next few days, he sampled one revelation after another: the Dom Perignon champagne, the Monte Cristo Cuban cigars, even the lion's roar of captive pet carnivores.

He watched as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle rammed and collapsed the wall of a windowless bunker just outside Saddam's palace. The building concealed bundles of U.S. currency stacked floor-to-ceiling and wrapped in binding that read "Bank of America."

To a man who had grown up in the bleak shadows of Kentucky's coal mines, staring down all that money "was like hitting the lottery," Coffey said.

His career was about to drown in a flood of American dollars.

The family business

Today, adrift and troubled in Sarasota, the 34-year-old is worlds away from what he once was -- a trained sniper who took his first shot with a .22-caliber rifle his father gave him when he was 7 or 8 years old in rural Harlan County. At first, he practiced on tin can lids nailed to a fence post 80 yards away. When that got too easy, he began targeting the nails. And other things.

Struggling back home

Homeless, jobless, struggling with drugs, delinquent on child support payments, and spinning in the revolving door of Sarasota courtrooms and jail cells, Earl Coffey said he is hamstrung by civilian life.

And, in an echo of the post-traumatic stress disorder that contributed to the recent death of 24-year-old Marine Eric Hall in nearby Charlotte County, Fla., Coffey claims the combat flashbacks from the invasion have debilitated him.

"Fighting war's not hard; living with it afterwards is hard," said Coffey, who maintains a military-tight haircut. "It keeps coming back on you. For a long time, I was afraid to go to sleep because I knew what I'd see. You get exhausted by the flashbacks and you feel like you're in a trance all the time, like a zombie, like you're just existing."

Ineligible for Veterans Affairs assistance because of his bad-conduct discharge, Coffey said he turned to Oxycontin, a narcotic he purchased illegally on the streets, to dull the jagged edges of memory.

He said he got "a little carried away," completed detox through the Salvation Army, and insists he is drug-free today. But neither his father nor his wife believe it.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

New veterans cemetery a 'national shrine'

New veterans cemetery a 'national shrine'
Burial site for region's veterans to be dedicated after six-year campaign
By Kim Hackett
Published Saturday, May 31, 2008 at 4:30 a.m.
Last updated Saturday, May 31, 2008 at 7:14 a.m.

SARASOTA COUNTY — Sarasota County is poised to become a resting ground for thousands of military veterans after Sunday's groundbreaking and dedication of the 295-acre Sarasota VA National Cemetery.

The ceremony at the new site on State Road 72, east of Interstate 75, is expected to draw 1,000 people, including local politicians such as U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan and former U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris. The Navy Band from Jacksonville will play and the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office will have a helicopter flyover.

"It's the culmination of a dream," said , president of the Sarasota County Veterans Commission, who started the campaign for the cemetery six years ago and got Harris to push it through Congress. "We need it now to properly recognize and bury Korean and World War veterans who are a vast aging group."

The Sarasota County cemetery will be Florida's sixth national cemetery. Its addition is part of the nation's biggest expansion of cemeteries for veterans since the Civil War.

More than 400,000 veterans live within 75 miles of Sarasota. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has estimated the cemetery will accommodate more than 10 burials a day, and up to 50 a day, once it opens.
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