Honoring St Johns County’s veterans

Historic City News special events photographer Raphael Cosme attended yesterday when Governor Rick Scott honored over 300 active duty, retired, or honorably discharged military members during a ceremony honoring them with the Veterans Service Award.

The solemn ceremony where the governor presented the medals was followed with a photo opportunity for the vets and their families with Governor Scott.

Thursday’s event was held at the Robert F. Ensslin Jr. Armory on SR-207 in St. Augustine. The Florida Department of Veterans Affairs and Veterans Council of St. Johns County invited all military veterans residing in the county to participate in the ceremony.

St Johns County’s legislative members, Representative Cyndi Stevenson and Senator Travis Hutson, joined Governor Scott, Major General Michael A. Calhoun, Adjutant General of Florida, and other dignitaries who celebrated the service of our local veterans.

Assistant St Johns County Administrator, Jerry Cameron, was not at the ceremony. He was in Washington, DC, testifying before a congressional panel about waste and abusive practices employed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in replacing medical facilities like the local Community Based Outpatient Clinic.

Historic City News reported when we learned that the VA had not responded to a two-year advance warning from the county alerting them to the fact that Lowes Stores had purchased the property on US-1 South, across from Flagler Hospital. The county moved ahead, aware of construction deadlines; but, the VA outraged thousands of area veterans, most of whom depend on the clinic for medications and non-emergency care, when they became unresponsive and reticent about their plans to relocate. The failure to move by March 31st is costing taxpayers more than $64,000 per month in rent and penalties; and, if they don’t vacate by October 1st, that cost will nearly double.

© 2015 Raphael Cosme for Historic City News

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