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Florida veterans center gets $10,000 from Amazon to help clients

By SARAH SMITH | The Florida Times-Union | Published: November 19, 2018

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — For Jacksonville homeless veterans, Five Star Veterans Center provides an in-between place for them while they get back on their feet both physically and mentally.

The center provides a room for each qualifying veteran, three meals a day at no charge, counseling and help getting into school or finding a job.

Lt. Col. Dayton Warfle, head of business development, said seeing people get back on their feet is what they hope for.

"Going from homeless or living in your car or living under a bridge to running your own business, start going for a master's degree here in Jacksonville and then coming to get your life back, back with your family, back with your kids, it's amazing to see that," he said.

To help with the general costs of running the center, Amazon last week donated $10,000 to Five Star Veterans Center.

The day also included a panel discussion about transitioning from military to civilian life.

Amazon hosted a number of events throughout the country to recognize veterans who work in their centers. The company said it employs about 18,000 military veterans and last year pledged to hire and train 25,000 more veterans and military spouses by 2021.

Five Star's CEO Len Loving said the money is greatly needed as the center has a high operating cost every month. "Our budget runs about $40,000 a month to keep the building open," he said.

He said Amazon's support is this kind of community partnership vital to the center and it also partners with other organizations such as Feeding Florida and local restaurants.

John Fogarty, general manager for Amazon, said he is excited to start this partnership with the veterans center.

"It's exciting to work with an organization that does so much for our veterans in the Jacksonville area," Fogarty said. "We've really been welcomed with open arms since we opened our fulfillment centers here."

A study done on veterans that was published in the American Journal of Public Health said that 25.7 percent of veterans studied were diagnosed with a mental illnesses between 2010 and 2011.

The study looked at a change in policy where over four million veterans were covered and out of those four million studied, 1.15 million of those veterans were diagnosed with either depression, post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse disorder, anxiety disorder, or serious mental illness, or a combination of two or more.

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©2018 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)
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