SWFL lawmaker files bill that includes alert system for missing veterans

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

Our military heroes often come home with scars that you can’t always see. Mental illness is one of them. Now, there is a new push for “Camo Alert,” a registry that would help police find veterans who disappear.

State Rep. Heather Fitzhagen recently filed bill HB 1051: Missing Persons for 2020 legislative session, which includes adding “Camo Alert” to help law enforcement locate missing veterans who may be at risk.

We spoke to veteran advocate Keith Campbell, who specializes in helping veterans across Southwest Florida who suffer from invisible wounds of war. Campbell was one of the individuals who spearheaded “Camo Alert.”

“When they have time on their hands, the trauma kinda sneaks up on them,” Campbell said. β€œI mean, it can be bottled away for many, many years.”

Campbell told us the trauma of war experiences cause some veterans to disappear and others at risk of suicide.

“Working with law enforcement, we found out that there was some red tape that, when the veterans go missing, there’s limitations to what they can do as far as getting involved with the community and getting organizations involved,” Campbell said.

That’s why Campbell and his committee came up with the idea for the “Camo Alert” system, a voluntary registry with information on at-risk veterans. When a veteran is missing, the “Camo Alert” would be similar to an amber or silver alert and help law enforcement find them.

Fitzenhagen filed the bill Monday with the help of veteran Dr. Michael Dreikorn, the author of the bill who served seven years in the U.S. Army. The bill includes clauses that would protect a veteran’s privacy and prevent false alarms.

“It allows immediate action,” Dreikorn said. β€œAnd when someone is in dire need, immediate action is needed.”

The VA says, on average, 20 veterans die by suicide every day, and that’s why Campbell says the “Camo Alert” system is critical.

β€œAnything under the three or four-hour mark is a very good chance that we can save him,” Campbell said.

MORE:Β HB 1051: Missing Persons

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