VETERAN’S DAY SPOTLIGHT: Brevard Veterans Memorial Center Features Dedicated Army of Volunteers
By Space Coast Daily // November 8, 2021
Center includes museum, library, store and vet support activities
The army of Brevard Veterans Memorial Center 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.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The Brevard Veterans Memorial Center (VMC) is a non-profit organization with one goal in mind…to serve our veterans.
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.
With an amazing array of military artifacts ranging from the Revolutionary War to our current conflicts in the Middle East, VMC strives to educate the public on our military’s efforts both past and present in our free museum, library and plaza.
VMC’s Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter 123 is a nationally recognized group of volunteers here to assist veterans and their families with VA claims and benefits. Over 3,200 veterans were served in 2015. VMC also provides emergency assistance to qualifying veterans and our facility is home to many veterans organizations.
The VMC depends on volunteers. If you would like to volunteer to support veterans services, help with our museum, work in the library or any other function you are welcome. Please contact the Manager on Duty at 321-453-1776.
“As with many veteran organizations, ours is a group with many missions and thus was divided over the years into two major components,” said Weaver.
“The Brevard Veterans Council (BVC) is our 501(c)19 non-profit and the membership and operational element of what we do is described elsewhere on our website. The Veterans Memorial Center is the VMC 501(c)3 non-profit that operates the Museum, Plaza, Library and many other programs and veteran support activities.”
GREAT VENUE FOR EVENTS
The Veterans Memorial Center has a large meeting room that can be rented by anyone for meetings or events. The room is completely configurable for tables and chairs – seating up to 140 guests. Rental of the facility includes tables and chairs, and access to the prep kitchen.
After 4 p.m. the Museum closes and the event becomes private. There is mood lighting on the ceiling. Alcohol can be served but must be declared when completing the contract.
Usage fees will include a $100 cleaning fee and a $50 manned security fee for the facility. Center personnel will set up the room to your specifications and clean up after the event. Discounts are available to Veterans.
Contact the Center at 321-453-1776 to obtain the rental costs, determine availability and book the facility.
The facilities are open 7 days a week. Museum and library hours are Monday through Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from 12 noon to 4 p.m. The Memorial Plaza and the new Park are open from dawn until dusk. The DAV is available for veterans support Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon.
FOR MORE INFORMATION call 321-453-1776 or log on to VeteransMemorialCenter.org
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