Trudy Beeler, Empath Health Veterans Community Partner Specialist
By Karen Davis-Pritchett M.Ed., Empath Health Vice President of Access and Inclusion
PINELLAS COUNTY — Veterans have bravely served our country, and they, along with their family, have made many sacrifices. As they have dedicated their lives to service, Empath Health, through the Empath Honors program, is dedicated to taking care of veterans’ unique medical, social and emotional needs.
As a Level Five Partner of the We Honor Veterans program, an initiative of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), we are proud to serve veterans through specialized care and support for our patients, participants, clients and their caregivers. We provide veteran-centric education and celebrations throughout our community.
“We want to consistently offer veterans, their caregivers and the community the opportunity to learn about topics that impact this group and to network with each other,” said Trudy Beeler, veterans community partnership specialist for Empath Health. “We are here to advocate for veterans and ensure they are aware of the resources available.”
To ensure all veterans have the information and access to services they need, Empath Health is laying the groundwork for lasting connections that can help make daunting situations or tough conversations easier to navigate when the time comes.
The newest resource offered by Empath Health is the Virtual Veterans Briefing. All veterans and those who care for them are invited to join an educational Zoom session on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Upcoming topics include military caregiver support, Parkinson’s disease awareness, suicide prevention, PTSD, Agent Orange and applying for benefits, and Alzheimer’s disease awareness and support.
In addition to the briefings, the Virtual Veterans Coffee Connection, held on the third Friday of each month, provides a chance for veterans to get to know their neighbors and have questions answered in a casual setting. There are also opportunities for veterans to get involved as volunteers with Empath Health, providing support to veteran patients and their families through the Veterans Serving Veterans program.
“Connection is something a lot of veterans are looking for,” added Beeler. “Whether its community conversations or one-on-one time between a volunteer and a patient, we can help bring veterans of all eras together.”
The VA and other organizations across the community offer a wide variety of benefits and services to eligible veterans and their dependents and survivors. However, many veterans may not fully utilize these because they are not aware they are available or don’t know how to access them. African-American veterans have a lower rate of using these services than other racial groups.
According to the 2020 Minority Veterans Report published by the Department of Veterans Affairs and National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, more than 5 million veterans of color. As active servicemen and women transition to veteran status, it is expected people of color will make up 36.2 percent of all living veterans by the year 2045, with African Americans comprising the largest group.
As part of its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, Empath Health will continue to create community engagement opportunities, provide veteran-centric care and honor our veterans and their caregivers.
For more information about Empath Honors and services available to veterans, contact Trudy Beeler, veteran’s professional liaison, at 727-643-4939.