Top military officer Admiral Mike Mullen met with a crowd of students, veterans and military families Tuesday at a town hall event at the University of Miami.
As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mullen is taking such meeting across the U.S. in an effort to help ease veterans' integration back into civilian jobs and communities.
"We just need to connect with the country about what our men and women have been through, and, as veterans who return home, to figure out a way in the local community to help them transition," he said.
Mullen took questions about the killing of Osama bin Laden, medical care for veterans and military operations in Iraq.
He acknowledged troops and their families are under high levels of stress and that the suicide rate has risen.
"A certain stigma is getting attached to veterans," said Coral Gables police officer Jason Recio, who became the first fully disabled vet to join the force. "People are focusing on post traumatic stress syndrome or even a physical injury, [but] there is nothing a veteran can't do and can't do better. We just need a chance to prove it."
Mullen said the VA system has done a good job but needs to be improved, necessitating a discussion of what’s working and what can be done better for South Florida veterans — heath care, mental counseling, and job assistance.
The visit was one of dozens that the admiral has made around the country. On Tuesday, he'll hold a town hall meeting in Atlanta.