Large numbers of veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. They are also finding delays in getting treatment. Mark Alvarez is the commander of VFW post 3308. He believes that as many as 40 percent coming home are feeling the effects of combat.
"They're very quiet, you know, very edgy sometimes. They lose their focus at times," said Commander Alvarez.
A swamped Veterans Administration is the first place for those seeking help to turn. After that, it is private or state programs. The problem is that Florida ranks 50th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in mental health funding. Experts say the state is losing ground.
"If they're not in an acute situation or a crisis, they often have to go without care or wait a long time to get it," said Bob Sharp with the Florida Council for Community Mental Health.
With long waits for services or no place to turn, those with problems become homeless, get in trouble, or both, ending up at expensive emergency rooms or state prison.
"The cost for prisons, health care, emergency department is a lot more than what we would pay for outpatient treatment," said Sharp.
This slogan is being promoted to fight terrorism, but experts say the same thing applies when it comes to mental health.
More than half the money the state spends on mental health goes to keeping people locked up, not helping them before they need to be institutionalized.
Florida spends an average of forty dollars per person on mental health, while Alabama spends twice that much, and Mississippi three times more. Most Northeast states spend six times per capita more than Florida is spending.