Fire Watch Council asks for funds to help stop suicides

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This article was updated Aug. 18, 2020 with links to programs provided by the Wounded Warrior Project.

The July 15 meeting of the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners included information from the Fire Watch Council, an organization formed “to coordinate regional efforts to reduce military veteran suicides in Northeast Florida.”

A request for funding was made in the amount of $25,000.

Representing the organization were three speakers: retired Brigadier General Michael P. Fleming, chairman of the Fire Watch Council, Executive Director Nick Howland, and Vice Chair Lynn Schultz. A comprehensive presentation outlined the challenges, structure, strategy, and programs of the organization.

Statistics provided by the group said that there were more than 6,000 veteran suicides each year from 2008 to 2016, and the rate of suicides was 1.3 times higher among male veterans compared with non-veteran adult men. Male veterans ages 18-34 have the highest rates of suicide. One slide entitled “Florida Veteran and total Florida, Southern Region and National Suicide Deaths by Age Group, 2017” revealed there was a total of 512 veteran suicides in Florida that year.

The speakers presented the vision, beliefs, mission and values along with the program plan which includes a military/veteran resource guide, a peer-to-peer Watch Stander Program, data collection, wallet cards, micro-grants, advocacy and linkage to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The organization’s plan is to “coordinate with the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End A National Tragedy of Suicide (‘Prevents’).”

The organization’s partners include K9s For Warriors, Cohen Veterans Network, Wounded Warrior Project, United Way of Northeast Florida, Florida Department of Veteran Affairs, PsychArmor Institute, The Veteran Compass, America’s Warrior Partnership, and Operation New Uniform.

County Commissioner Justin Taylor thanked the speakers and mentioned how impressed he was in how the organization had grown. Chairman Danny Leeper also thanked the group for the presentation.

Later, Schultz told the News-Leader that as of 2018, “veterans in Nassau County by age group were 18-34, 696; 35-54, 2,115; 55-64, 1,789; 75 and older, 1,833. In relation to active duty there are 90 persons in the Reserves, 150 in the National Guard, and 125 on active duty.”

For more information on the Fire Watch Council, visit thefirewatch.org. For more information on Nassau County Veterans Demographics and Statistics, visit https://bit.ly/3eJcRkw.

The Wounded Warrior Project also provides several programs for veterans:

An item to approve a “Resolution extending the State of Emergency in the County” was tabled until July 22.

There were no status updates from the Building, Code Enforcement, Engineering, Fire Rescue, and Public Works departments.

Under new business, there was unanimous approval of Award Bid No. NC 20-004 to Advanced Insulation in the amount of $376,574.55 for the Detention Center Attic Insulation Rehab Project; and authorize the Chairperson to sign Contract No. 2856.

Taylor asked about the status of county libraries reopening. County Manager and Attorney Mike Mullin stated that for large parts of August Supervisor of Elections Vicki Cannon would be utilizing the branch libraries. There was no date yet on when the libraries would be opening.

At the start of the meeting, Mullin read to the board a communication from Derryl Johnson, a longtime resident of Yulee who requested that a standalone library for Yulee be added to the impact fees recipient list.

Mullin also announced there had been break in a water main on the south end of Amelia Island. The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Carlton Dunes, half of Scott Road and the Ocean Place Condominiums were affected by the rupture of a 12-inch
water line. Workers started working on problem immediately and finished repair the next
day.

Nassau-Amelia Utilities, which is the water service provider for the south end, advised residents in the area to boil their water for 72 hours. Mullin related that the Ritz-Carlton had to temporarily move their guests.