A parade honoring veterans took place at James Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa this morning. More than thirty-five units including veterans service organizations, high school bands, and Gasparilla krewes were part of the procession. The Wharton high school band played military fanfare for the ceremony.
High ranking officers in various branches of the US armed forces joined with state and local elected officials in recognizing the service of veterans from past wars, as well as those currently serving in the armed forces. Lt General John Allen from Central Command has served in Iraq and Afghanistan and has been in the military since 1970.
Allen declined to comment about potential troop increase in Afghanistan.
Florida Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp told parade-goers that popular sovereignty decides our direction, while the military protects those interests.
Representative Gus Bilirakis also recognized veterans at the parade.
A 2007 VA survey found that 18% of recently discharged veterans are unemployed. President Barak Obama signed an executive order on Monday this week creating a Council on Veterans Employment to advise the President and Administration on how to set the bar for hiring and employing veterans.
Sen George LeMieux recently returned from Afghanistan, and supports improved healthcare and employment opportunities for veterans as President Obama has proposed. Lemieux also supports an increase in troop levels in Afghanistan.
US Army Veteran Jay Alexander is with the anti-war group Veterans for Peace and says the potential troop increase in Afghanistan is a mistake.
Alexander says Veterans for Peace is promoting a more positive use of our military forces at home that might bring further peace on American soil.
Every third weekend of the month Veterans for Peace holds an anti-war vigil at MacDill Air Force Base. They ask that our troops be sent home.