After successful completion of 22 years of active duty in the USMC, Lieutenant Colonel Adelhelm retired as the commander of USMC Blount Island in Jacksonville. His service continued with founding Semper Fidelis Society, Jacksonville Florida in 1998. He was driving force behind the creation, establishment and funding of a Marine and FMF Corpsmen Monument inside the front entrance of Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville FL, dedicated to Marines and those Corpsmen who served with Marine units.
In 2012, he created Northeast Florida Vets4Vets which started as a small group of veterans for coffee and doughnuts has now grown to nearly 600 veterans and 70 veterans organizations which now fills the main floor of the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville.
In 2020, he was the driving force behind the fundraising, design and placement of a Beirut Barracks Monument. This monument is the first in Florida, and only the third in the nation. This annual memorial service at Evergreen Cemetery is solely dedicated to those 241 Marines, Navy & Army personnel (to include 22 Floridians) who perished in the Beirut, Lebanon Barracks Bombing on Oct. 23, 1983.
Bishop Dr. Douglas Alexander, Sr. A native Floridian whose family roots in Citrus County go back to the late 1800s, Bishop Dr. Alexander. is a recognized and greatly admired spiritual and community leader, affectionately acknowledged throughout the Citrus County community as “Citrus County’s pastor.” A veteran of the United States Army, he served in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He inspired his church family to be the community leader in meeting the basic needs of food and shelter for Citrus County veterans and their families in need. He established and operates a weekly food pantry for food insecure veterans. Bishop Alexander Instituted and oversees program that transports local veterans with VA medical appointments to local VA medical facility; Gainesville, Tampa, and The Villages. He has secured temporary housing for veterans and surviving spouses in financial crisis and assists in their relocation, and Hosts and participates in the Citrus County Veterans Appreciation Week Massing of the Colors Ceremony.
Col Bowman left active duty in 1988 to become an assistant district attorney in Southeastern Massachusetts but was recalled to active duty during the Gulf War. Released in May 1991, he practiced law concentrating in military and Veterans issues before returning again to active duty in 1994. He retired from Marine Corps as a colonel in October 1999, after serving as Senior Military Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs and to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. He has served as Special Assistant for Veterans Research at the University of South Florida and as a Senior Advisor to the Director of VA’s Sunshine Healthcare Network which serves Veterans in Florida, Southeastern Georgia, and the Caribbean. Secretary Bowman was a proud member of the Board of Directors for the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV). He has been a passionate advocate for this issue for decades and continues to be a champion for homeless veterans.
Lieutenant General Chelberg served his country in the military and as a civilian for over four decades. His contributions to our country over his 32-year military career is significant and he is decorated with numerous awards and honors. In May 2011, he and wife, Victoria, moved to Florida. He continues to give back to veterans not only in Palm Beach County, but throughout the state of Florida. A veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm, his distinguished military career was nothing short of incredible and he still lives a life of service to his country and his community. Established in 2009, the Wounded Veterans Relief Fund was created with the mission to support Florida's disabled veterans by relieving their financial strains and facilitating their transition to civilian life. In 2014, he began serving as president of the fifteen-member volunteer board of directors for WVRF, bolstering its fundraising strategy, redefining its vision, and shaping much of what it is today. Lieutenant General Chelberg, despite serving as a volunteer, works every day in close collaboration with WVRF's Executive Director, Michael Durkee. He is involved in daily operations and they make decisions on all issues that affect the nonprofit together, including on fundraising, advocacy, public relations, media appearances, and new initiatives. He also proved his deep-rooted commitment to WVRF and the veterans it serves by personally donating annually to the organization each year since he has been involved. WVRF earned the Community Hero's Assistance Award in October 2015 from the Military Officers Association of America.
Colonel Francis has dedicated his entire life to serving others. During his military service, his mission was to serve his brothers and sisters in arms, members of developing nations, and those in need of help by the United States Air Force. However, he found a new mission – to serve those who have also served this country. Billy does this every day at Florida State University. Colonel Francis created the Student Veterans Center (SVC) and serves as the first, and only director since its inception in November of 2011. Since its creation, the FSU Student Veterans Center has become a national example of how to empower student veterans. He established the center with the vision to become a national beacon of veteran support and success is the guiding principle of the Veterans Alliance, which encompasses Florida State University initiatives that ease the transition from military service to campus life. In the past 10 years, the Student Veterans Center has become a premier institute which has prioritized, supported, and guided student veterans, reservist, national guardsman, and ROTC cadets. It has served as an example for universities across the State of Florida and the United States on student veterans’ success and integration. The veteran graduation rate has raised as much as 20% since Colonel Francis took command.
A veteran of two branches of service, United States Air Force and the United States Navy, Captain Hartford has lived a life of dedicated service. He served in uniform (active and reserve) for 39 years and as a full-time VA employee for 22 years. He was instrumental in expanding VA benefits for Vietnam Veterans exposed to Agent Orange and for legislation to provide benefits and healthcare for children of Vietnam Veterans who were born with spinal bifida. His expertise was recognized by his White House appointment to the Veterans Advisory Committee on Rehabilitation and also to the President's Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) Task Force. His passion to assist in mitigating veteran suicides has led to his present appointments to the Colorado and Florida Governor's Challenge Task Forces. Michael is currently the Vice-President of Manasota Veterans, a 501c3 organization, committed to advocating for the 90K veterans and their families who reside in Manatee and Sarasota Counties. Michael served as the Chief Operations Director and Chief of Staff from day one and is now serving as a healthcare consultant for Marcus Institute for Brain Health. In February 2021 MIBH partnered with the Gary Sinise Foundation under the Avalon Network and are opening up veteran TBI sites throughout the country thanks to an additional combined $40M gift from the Marcus and Blank Foundations. As a result, 400 veterans and family members have been successfully treated at the MIBH for their TBI and associated psychological health conditions since 2017.
Mr. Hughes is known in Veteran's circles as a "Veteran's Veteran." A United States Marine, he has served in several Veterans Service Organizations, in which most of his time has been as an officer. He has served as an All-American Commander, and All State Commander in the VFW. In the Marine Corps League, he served as a Detachment Commandant where he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award. In the Florida Veterans Foundation, he served as a District Director covering seven counties in Northeast Florida. He served as the Chairman of the Jacksonville VA Cemetery Committee for 5 years (out of the 24 years that he served also as a member of this committee). He later campaigned for a new road to be built from Interstate 95 to the cemetery, in order to make it more accessible for families visiting their loved ones. The cost of this new road amounted to over 2 million dollars, which was in addition to the cost of the cemetery, which brought the total expenditure for the cemetery and road to over 4 million dollars. Key legislators who advocated for the project included Congressmen John Mica and Andrew Crenshaw (FL) and Jim Kingston (GA.) However, as was stated by both Representative Mica and Crenshaw, none of this would have been accomplished without the determination and visionary thinking, not to mention the dogged perseverance of Dan Hughes. Thank you and welcome to the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame
Colonel Stan Jordan has years of dedicated service at all levels. He spent 17 years as a member of the Duval County School Board, one of the nation's largest school system with over 120,000 students. Served in the Florida House of Representatives for 8 years. During which time, he was Chairman of the Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs. Representative Jordan worked tirelessly to ensure Florida would receive a national military cemetery. He sponsored and passed a resolution in 2002 to be presented to the President and Congress of the United States requesting priority consideration for the cemetery. Jacksonville now has a national military cemetery-testimony to his respectful persistence in support of Veterans and communities. Representative Jordan ensured laws were passed that supported our military service members and military families. These were "legislative models of emulation" for other states across America and were adopted by legislatures after enacted in Florida. The list is long and includes, recognition of transferring military spouses' professional credentials, free fishing licenses and entry to state parks for military members, and free annual vehicle registration renewals for Florida National Guard members.. Additionally, through his legislative efforts, he secured over 50M dollars in funding to renovate Florida National Guard Armories. Rep. Jordan also served on the Base Realignment and Closure Committee (BRAC) as the only Committee Member from the Florida House of Representatives. The success of the BRAC effort accounted for over 50 billion a year in economic impact. .
Sergeant Major Ray Quinn is an inspirational leader who has committed his life to serve veterans and their families. Upon his retirement Sergeant Major Quinn chose to continue a life of service in impactful ways. He served with the Florida Department of Military Affairs for many years culminating with his selection as the Director of Executive Services He was one of the founders of the Veterans Council of St. Johns County and continues to be totally immersed in its operation. He is currently serving as the Vice Chair where he has chaired the Wreaths across America Program for the St. Augustine National Cemetery for the past six years. Several times each year St. Johns County suffers the loss of a veteran that has no next of kin. Upon these occasions the County verifies their service and arranges for interment at the Jacksonville National Cemetery. The Veterans Council of St. Johns County has a policy that no veteran goes home alone. Sergeant Major Quinn volunteers to conduct a graveside service for every veteran that has no family. Sergeant Major Quinn’s work has impacted veterans across Florida. He was one of the leaders who championed the creation of the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame and was invited to serve on the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame Council where he served as Chair and Vice Chair.
After serving 33 distinguished years in the US Army, DJ continued to serve not only his local community, but the Florida legal landscape. In September 2013, Reyes met with Hon. Richard Weis about a plan to create a Veterans Treatment Court in the 13th Judicial Circuit in Tampa. There was no budget, no staff, and no veteran mentors to help start the program, but that didn’t deter Reyes. The program started a month later with six veterans and one mentor. Six years later, the Veterans Treatment Court in Tampa peaked to nearly 250 veterans and more than 140 mentors, who fill the gap in many program requirements while also providing support, advocacy, and training. The Tampa program has served as a national model. In 2019, Reyes traveled to Washington, D.C., to champion for federal legislation supporting veterans’ courts nationwide — and it became law in August 2020. The Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act by U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist of Florida directs the Department of Justice to provide grants and assistance to state, local, and tribal governments to create and maintain veterans’ treatment courts. Over 90% of veterans in trouble with the law and with a diagnosed disability or condition as a result of military service get the necessary medical treatment and community support and successfully graduate from the program. Tampa’s Court also saves millions of annual local taxpayers’ dollars because the veterans are kept out of jail and reintegrated back into the communities via schooling, employment, and community service initiatives.
Fred Robinson After Fred Robinson’s Marine Corps service ended, his service to veterans and the military community to generations of Veterans in Central Florida grew. He has had the honor to serve on several Congressional Advisory Boards; impacting large Veterans communities of interests in Central Florida and Nationally. Mr. Robinson serves on Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer Veterans Advisory Council and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demmings Veterans Advisory Council where he was elected to Vice Chair. Additionally, Mr. Robison serves as a member of Mission United Veterans Council under the United Way initiative. Mr. Robison served as American Legion Department of Florida, Assistant Adjutant 2015-2017 supported the Department Adjutant Managing the Department, Supervised Boy’s State Program, responsible for all Bids, overall maintenance of Buildings and Property, Oversaw Constitution and ByLaws. Working for Hospice and knowing that many Vietnam Veterans die without getting their proper recognition for their service, Mr. Robison wanted to ensure veterans were able to participate in Commemoration of Vietnam Veterans Pinning Ceremonies. During Covid-19, it complicated matters further. Mr. Robinson was able adapt and overcome, working with VAMC Director Timothy Cooke to host a Vietnam Veterans Drive through pinning ceremony at VAMC Lake Baldwin on the promise, to welcome them home. Mr. Robinson has served as a Guardian on 4 Honor Flights and worked to have Vitas Healthcare Sponsored 6 Veterans Organization Commanders and VSO’s on Honor Flights. Coordinated and arranged interviews for Tuskegee Airman CMSGT. Richard R. Hall Jr. who served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Montford Point Marine Sgt. Charles Foreman for Black History month and Marine Corps Field Music Sgt. Sallie Amato for Women’s History month.
For over 18 years he has contributed in numerous ways in supporting veterans and veteran programs and activities. Primarily through his association with the Manatee County Veterans Council and Veterans of Foreign Wars Braden River Post 12055, he has earned the deserved reputation of being a key leader among veterans in Manatee County. In 2016, Selected as the Manatee County Veteran of the Year in 2016 by the Manatee County Veterans Council. He served as leader for Council's program to get veterans into classrooms to educate today's students about the military and has been instrumental in the planning and execution of the Council's Veteran's day Ceremony and Parade for several years. Colonel Ruderman believes in the concept of giving, both time and money, in support of various organizations that not only serve veterans, but also the greater good. He is a true believer in the concept of volunteering. Since his peers are fellow volunteers, he uses his leadership and managerial skills in a multitude of ways in order to help "get things done", and he strives to do so without fanfare.
A decorated combat veteran, Mr. Salter continued his service back home in Santa Rosa County and state-wide in many capacities. He has served as a guiding force in Northwest Florida for more than 30 years supporting the military presence. Don served as Chairman of the two county Military Regional Oversight Committee (MROC) and currently serves as the Chairman of the Santa Rosa County Military Affairs Committee and the Santa Rosa County Veterans Memorial Plaza Foundation. For the past 20 years, Don has planned, organized and served as the Master of Ceremonies for every annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremony and parade in Milton. He is past Chairman of the Emerald Coast Honor Flight Committee that organized sending 960 WWII veterans from the First Congressional District to Washington DC to see their Memorial at no cost. Following BRAC 1995 after Florida lost a number of key military missions, installations and jobs to other states, Don Salter along with other like- minded community leaders met with Governor Lawton Chiles to establish the Florida Defense Alliance (FDA). One of FD A's purposes is to assist local community efforts to enhance the military value of bases in their respective communities should there be another BRAC. Mr. Salter established and serves as the President of the Santa Rosa County Veterans Memorial Foundation, a 50l(c3) not for profit, for the purpose of supporting the Veterans Memorial Plaza and to raise funds to provide no cost assistance to Santa Rosa County veterans. One of the first initiatives was to provide a no cost transportation service to needy veterans requiring transport to the VA Clinic in Pensacola and return home. The Foundation also provides wheel chair ramps and home improvements for disabled veterans at no charge.
Skip served two tours in Vietnam, where he received a silver star, two purple hearts and five bronze stars (three with "V" device). He served in operations, analysis and evaluation at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe (SHAPE); as Deputy US Representative to NATO/SHAPE; as SHAPE Liaison Officer to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Services at the Pentagon; and was Chief of Attaché Coordination during the fall of the Berlin Wall and the beginning of Operation Desert Storm. Skip served with distinction for 31 years in the US Army, however his service to this nation and this state continued. Skip has served his community and his fellow veterans in various roles: Director of VA Benefits and Issues, and Mentor at Brevard County Veterans Treatment Court, State of Florida Veterans Service Officer, Disabled American Veterans Chapter #123, Good Deeds Foundation, Military Officers Association of America (Cape Canaveral Chapter (MOAACC). In his role as a mentor for the Veteran Treatment Courts, Skip has actively supported the work of three consecutive Brevard County Court Judges in the VTC Program, working to rehabilitate veterans convicted of non-violent crimes. With a combination of empathy and ''tough love," he has mentored over 200 participating veterans.
An Air Force veteran, Mr. Wilson is more than likely known for in this local area as the Head Football Coach and Assistant Principal for Lincoln High School. While his winning record and state championships are impressive, it is worth noting 147 of his players received scholarship aid to play college football with over 90 of them being to Division 1 schools. Many would not have been able to attend college but are now college graduates as a result of the scholarship they received. Wilson served on the committee to bring the "Traveling Vietnam Wall" to Tallahassee in 2006. He joined the Bud West Chapter 419 of the Air Force Association and he worked to select the Bud West AFA Teacher of The Year while serving on the Board of Directors. Wilson later joined the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 96, AMVETS Chapter 1776, and joined as an associate member of the Arthur R Meyer Jr Detachment 472 of the Marine Corps League. His membership remains in American Legion Post 68 in Madison FL which he joined in 1975. In 2020 with attendance limited at Tallahassee National Cemetery for the Wreaths across America event, Wilson shifted his focus to local citizens who died during our wars. Money was raised by VVA Chapter 96 for the purchase of Wreaths to be placed on graves in local cemeteries Wreaths were placed on graves of approximately 60 men who died serving America during WWI, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, and the Global War on Terrorism. To insure that the tradition of decorating graves of our heroes is passed on, he acquired help from his grandsons and other elementary, middle and high school students. He studied each man and at the grave site told a short history of the man and his sacrifice. The young people were asked to lay the Wreath on the grave, step back and say the man's name aloud; being told that as long as his name is spoken, he is not forgotten.
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