A northern man by birth but a southerner “by the grace of God and the Florida National Guard,” retired United States Air Force Colonel and Medical Director of the Hearing Research Institute of South Miami, Dr. Robert Pickard, recently organized the 10th Annual Tribute to the Military Run raising thousands of dollars for veterans returning from war who lack jobs, health care, and even homes.
“Governor Rick Scott recently said that 70 percent of the Florida National Guard coming back from Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom Wars are without jobs. These are men and women often debilitated by traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, loss of limbs, and they do not whine. Helping them can be a challenge,” said Pickard.
The purpose of the race is a way to connect the public or civilian population in general with the situation of military families while raising money to assist veterans. “If I were to walk down the street in South Miami or Pinecrest or Coral Gables and ask the average person if they knew what Enduring Freedom was I would get a ‘say what?’ answer. Today only .5 percent of American families have anyone serving in the military.”
Unlike World War II when 90 percent of families were directly connected to the hardship of war, and in draft-enforced Vietnam, keeping veterans’ needs in the minds of the public is no easy task. An army doctor during Vietnam whose family on both sides served in the military going back generations, Pickard’s Tribute to the Military Run 501 c 3 organization supports not only the Fisher House Project at VA Miami, but also Walter Reed Army Hospital and Bethesda Naval Hospital. In addition, the Board of Directors determines individual assistance for veterans seeking a myriad of help.
“Our work with the Wounded Warriors at Fisher House led to the Miami-Dade County Commission coming up with a million dollars to build the Fisher House at the VA Hospital. Today’s military are truly doing yeoman’s work with double and triple duty served and the daily danger from improvised explosive devices. It is a tough situation and it is only going to get worse. We are sitting on a powder keg of people who have been trained to kill and it is absolutely critical that we try to help as much as we can,” said Pickard.
Visit tributetothemilitary.org to contribute or call Dr. Pickard at 305-661-9100 to find out more details.