JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville wants to know how it can better serve the 250,000 veterans in Northeast Florida and their families.
The University of North Florida and a national service organization are collaborating with the city to help conduct a survey to learn what service gaps need to be filled.
Veterans and their families are asked to participate in the survey. Their responses will be used to shape current policies and add new resources to future veterans’ programs.
The survey, announced earlier this month, is open to people 18 and older in Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau, and St. Johns counties. You must be a veteran, family member or caregiver. It is also open to active and reserved military members.
The results will be analyzed at UNF’s Center for Community Initiatives.
The survey is part of an initiative to build a new veterans wellness center in Jacksonville that would serve all of Northeast Florida.
It would not be a hospital or a medical clinic, but the focus would be on behavioral health and providing more services for veterans that may not be available right now. Endeavors, a Texas-based group dedicated to helping veterans, said it wants veterans to weigh in since the specifics have not been planned yet.
Where the center will be built and the cost are not known. A similar wellness center that was built in Texas cost about $20 million. Endeavors said the price of the Jacksonville center would not only be covered by the city but from grants and other programs.
The CEO of Five Star Veterans Center in Jacksonville said one of the greatest needs is for more long-term housing and care options.
Florida has the third-highest number of veterans in the U.S. with more than 1.5 million, and according to the most recent census, Jacksonville has one of the largest veteran populations in the U.S., at nearly 80,000.
You can take the survey online at https://www.combinedarms.us/northeastfloridavets.
It is anonymous and takes about 10 minutes to complete.
You have until Sept. 21st to fill it out. Then the results will be available in November.
Endeavors said that it acts quickly and that Jacksonville could see construction begin sometime within a year.