South Floridians Attending President Obama's State of the Union Address

A few lucky South Floridians are getting a rare opportunity to attend President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address in person Tuesday night

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    A few lucky South Floridians are getting a rare opportunity to attend President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address in person Tuesday night. Martin and Melinda West and Jeff Colaiacovo comment. (Published Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014)

    A few lucky South Floridians are getting a rare opportunity to attend President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address in person Tuesday night.

    Martin and Melinda West will be attending as guests of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

    "Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz will walk with me to the seat in the chamber," Martin West read from the detailed itinerary.


    "Our day starts right when we get off the plane but at 9 p.m., the 'piece de resistance,' because that's when President Obama will give the State of the Union Address," Melinda West said.

    Among several talking points Mr. Obama is expected to tout is the success of the Affordable Care Act. Despite the much criticized roll out of the healthcare.gov website in October, the President will likely emphasize that 2.1 million people have already enrolled in 'Obamacare.'

    Ahead of the State of the Union, the Republican Party has already called the speech a rerun.


    But Martin, a small business owner and Davie resident, says his family is one of Obamacare's success stories.

    "What we're paying this year is $480 dollars a month, from $757 all the way to $480, that's a 40 percent price break," Martin West said.

    Some might be surprised to know that Martin is a moderate Republican. He said a few weeks ago he wrote Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat, to give credit where he believes it is due.


    "I am glad you pushed through this legislation," his letter read.

    About 20 years ago, his wife was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Ever since, they've worried about being dropped from their plans due to her preexisting condition.

    "It was maybe my final door closure to cancer, now I don't have to think about it anymore," Melinda West said. "That's a wonderful thing."

    Decorated Vietnam veteran Jeff Colaiacovo will also be attending as Congresswoman Lois Frankel's guest. He reached out to her office when he wasn't getting the VA benefits he was promised.

    His issue was resolved with Frankel's help, but he says it's a problem a countless number of men and women who sacrificed so much for the nation are struggling with.

    "There are a lot of vets that I’ve spoken to, that have started the process and through frustration, just gave up," Colaiacovo said. "It’s really sad because they are not getting the benefits they served our country for."