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City of Jacksonville, Jaguars open new veterans resource center

7:18 PM, Nov 15, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In another example of the Jacksonville Jaguars reaching out to help the community, the city and the team announced the opening of a new veterans resource and reintegration center.

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown and Jaguars owner Shad Khan cut the ribbon on the city's new veteran resource and reintegration center during a Friday morning news conference in the city hall atrium.

With the Jaguars Foundation contributing $1 million over the next five years, the city can further expand it's services to military veterans.

"We will be able to provide greater assistance with social services, housing assistance, employment services and greater financial assistance," said Mayor Brown.

The city's military affairs office will add a new position of social services specialist to assist veterans.

Khan said we owe a huge debt to all servicemen and women and this is a way to return the favor.

"This will assure that Jacksonville continues to be known throughout the country as the number one home for returning veterans. So thank you very much everybody."

Vietnam veterans Sylvester Bolden and Hallie Williams Bey were among those on hand for the announcement and happy to hear it.

"It is long overdue," said Bey. "That is something I wish the Vietnam veterans could have had when we first came back to the states. We had to struggle and fight for what we had to get. I am glad someone is doing something, I wished all the 31 other NFL teams would do the same thing to help their veterans."

"We have a lot of veterans in need and families in need, and they don't get the opportunity to get the help they need."

Les Bertrand of Vietnam Veterans of America said he will reserve judgement on the new center, hoping it can better help older veterans get the benefits they deserve.

"There are a lot of veterans who don't even want to come to these places because they know they are put on the back burner a lot of times. They are still not getting the benefits they earned and deserved. So there is work to be done."

NAS JAX Executive Officer Capt. Howard Wanamaker says it is wonderful that veterans can now get the help they need in one spot, and yes, he said Jacksonville is great for the military.

"Best support for military around, it's fantastic!"

It was also announced that $50,000 a year in grant money will be distributed to area service providers to increase and enhance their services for area military and veterans.

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