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Veterans Center Changes Its Name And, Hopefully, Its Luck

Cyd Hoskinson

The Jacksonville shelter for homeless military veterans has a new name, a new board of directors and, the shelter hopes, a new lease on life.

The Allied Veterans Center on Atlantic Boulevard is now the 5 Star Veterans Center.

According to Col. (Ret.) Len Loving, the '5' represents the five branches of the U.S. military: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

3.12 Col Len Loving.JPG
Credit Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT
Col. (Ret.) Len Loving

"The word 'star'", he says, "stands for service members-transition-and-reintegration."

And although money remains a problem, Loving says, the financial picture has grown a little brighter.

"It appears we may be able to get some short term funding, and then look at the long term issues in a more deliberate manner."

The name change was made in an effort to distance the shelter from the Allied Veterans of the World, which bought the property and paid most of its bills.

That relationship ended last month when federal agents closed the organization's internet cafes, and charged its leaders with running an illegal gambling operation.

The cafes generated hundreds of millions of dollars for the Allied Veterans of the World, but only a small fraction of that money was donated to the Allied Veterans Center.

Loving says the center could be forced to close its doors in June when what's left of those donations finally runs out.

The 5-Star Veterans Center currently provides housing, job training and access to services and social service agencies for around 2-dozen men and women veterans. 

Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.