Veterans Memorial Center volunteers help a staff of only two part-time employees
The army of Brevard Veterans Memorial Center volunteers have grown to almost 100 individuals who work at the museum, library, store, vet support activities and management and maintenance of the Center and the adjoining 82-acre Veterans Memorial Park.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – In 1979, a small group of World War II veterans met to pay the final respects to a fellow soldier who would otherwise have been buried alone in a pauper’s funeral.
They saw the need for an organization that would both help and honor individuals who had served their country in the military.
From that meeting grew Veterans Memorial Park and the Veterans Memorial Center, which included a museum covering United States military history.
Since 1990, the Merritt Island complex has also included a Disabled American Veterans office to provide vets and their families with free government assistance with benefits and services earned through military service.
Thanks to funds from the State of Florida, the Veterans Memorial Center in 2016 opened an expanded facility to better serve veterans.
After the expansion, the number of volunteers has grown to almost 100 individuals who work at the museum, library, store, vet support activities and management and maintenance of the Center and the adjoining 82-acre Veterans Memorial Park.
The oldest is an 88-year-old veteran of the Korean War, while the youngest is a 17-year-old high school junior who volunteers on weekends. Since its inception, admission to the Veterans Memorial Center has been free, thanks to the volunteers who help a staff of only two part-time employees.
“With an average of nearly 2,000 visitors per month, our volunteers make sure individuals, student groups or senior center guests all get the most out of their time in the museum and library,” said museum collections manager and Navy veteran Becky Zingarelli.
The DAV Chapter 123, located at the Memorial Center, works five days a week assisting veterans in need. The group developed a comprehensive VA benefit and information booklet that provides veterans and families with information on their entitled benefits.
Since 1995, the Veterans Memorial Center has supported an annual Stand Down to help homeless and struggling vets. The Memorial Center is also the meeting place for several local veterans’ organizations.
They are not charged a fee for facility use so they can funnel those funds for veterans and other community support service.
Each year, the Memorial Center awards scholarships to college-bound or continuing college students in Brevard. When the core of volunteers needs help with bigger events, the community gladly steps in.
“Our volunteers do most of the upkeep and maintenance, but we seek other volunteers to help with big clean-up projects,” said Brevard Veterans Council chairman Donn Weaver, Army veteran, Gold Star father and vice president at the Veterans Memorial Center.
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