The objective of the Veterans Council of St. Johns County, Inc. is to be of assistance to all veterans who have been honorably discharged from any of the military branches of the United States of America and have a residence in St. Johns County.
The Council was formed on July 4, 2001, in a proclamation issued by the St. Johns County Commissioners. It is comprised of representatives of the various veterans' organizations within St. Johns County, such as Posts 194 and 233 of the American Legion; Veterans of Foreign Wars Bryan Tutten Post 2391; The Vietnam Veterans of America Leo C. Chase Chapter 1084; The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Post 20-2; AMVETS; and The Purple Heart Society.
The Veterans Council works with city and county governments and local organizations to achieve the mutual goal of providing a central agency that assists in coordinating and disseminating matters concerning veterans and veterans’ activities in St. Johns County.
The Veterans Council informs and assists various organizations as they develop patriotic events. It organizes and hosts many annual events, such as celebrations of Veterans Day.
This year’s Veterans Day event will take place at 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 11, at Anastasia Baptist Church. This year we are celebrating Memorial Day, Wreaths Across America and Homeless Veterans Stand Down. The Council actively supports The St. Augustine National Cemetery; The Jacksonville National Cemetery; Missing In America Project; Disabled American Veterans; The USMC Oldest City Detachment; Vietnam Veterans of America; Military Officers of America Oldest City Chapter; The Navy League of the United States-St. Augustine/Palm Coast Chapter; and the Cecil Field POW/MIA Memorial.
The Council actively supports the Clyde Lassen State Veterans Nursing Home with donations and program support.
One of the major activities of the Veterans Council is promoting national patriotism through education by working closely with students and teachers. To achieve this goal, the Council works with the St. John’s County School System. The Council provides veteran speakers, conducts essay contests, supports the JROTC programs and donates the five documentaries it produced, which feature local veterans. The documentaries have been provided to all public high schools in St. Johns County as well as local libraries, colleges, museums and veterans groups.
According to the 2017 VA Veteran Population demographic information, 1,525,400 veterans live in the State of Florida with 19,623 veterans living in St. Johns County. The 2018 estimate is over 23,000, with the largest group being Vietnam-era veterans at over 6,700. Florida is the third-largest state after California and Texas in veteran population.
The Veterans Council of St. Johns County is an amalgam of over 28 veterans’ groups who send their representatives to the Council’s monthly meeting. The Veterans Council meets at 7 p.m. the last Thursday of every month in the County Health and Human Services building, 200 San Sebastian View, St. Augustine, Muscovy Room. All veterans and veteran groups invited to attend. The Council provides each county veterans group with monthly meeting minutes and agenda.
Each month the Council meeting features speakers who address current veteran-related issues. The Council has a well-received monthly newsletter, The Patriot Reader, (all issues are posted at: veteranscouncilsjc.org/newsletter.htm ) which is emailed to thousands of veterans and veterans’ groups. The newsletter contains monthly events, educational articles, service stories of local veterans and meeting dates. All are encouraged to submit articles and pictures. The Council also maintains a website (veteranscouncilsjc.org) that offers daily Council information and links to VA resources, VA health releases and newspaper articles that discuss veterans’ issues. The Council has a very large Facebook presence (Veterans Council of St. Johns County, FL) and posts information daily.
The Council proudly supports the Veterans Treatment Court. The Council financially assists veterans who are enrolled in the program with temporary loans for rent, food, car payments, utilities and clothing. The Veterans Treatment Court is dedicated to helping veterans address the underlying problems which led to their involvement in the criminal justice system. The Veterans Council provides mentors to each participant, known as Battle Buddies, who are available 24/7 to assist with any issues that arise. Veterans’ courts make the community safer and the Council assists by providing room, board and transportation and may pay bills for the veteran until he/she can become a contributing member of society.
The Veterans Council of St. Johns County welcomes all new county veterans and encourages them to attend one of its meetings.
The St. Johns County Veterans service officers are: Joseph McDermott; Rick Rees; and Travis Neidig. They are located in the St. Johns County Health & Human Services Building, 200 San Sebastian View, St. Augustine. For information, call 904-209-6160.
The St. Augustine Community Based Outpatient Clinic, named after Leo C. Chase Jr. , the first soldier from the county killed in action in Vietnam, is located at 100 Deerfield Preserve Blvd., St. Augustine.