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Jacksonville launches veterans survey to identify critical needs

Veterans Plaque
Raymon Troncoso
/
WJCT News
A plaque celebrating the U.S. Navy, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Air Force, prisoners of of war and those missing in action, was installed by the city on May 24, 2022, ahead of Memorial Day.

A comprehensive survey of First Coast veterans is underway, aiming to identify critical needs in the community for veterans and their families.

The anonymous 2022 Northeast Florida Veteran and Family Needs Assessment is the product of Endeavors, a nonprofit that conducts relief programs, including veterans services. Endeavors is partnering with Jacksonville, the University of North Florida and the Combined Arms Institute.

Endeavors, which also aims to build a veterans wellness center in Jacksonville using city dollars along with state and federal grants, is funding the survey. Combined Arms is providing metrics and analysis, as well as a public report based on the data to be released in November. The assessment is being conducted and reviewed by UNF's Center for Community Initiatives. Jacksonville officials will help facilitate outreach and potentially use the data for future policy decisions.

Florida has the third-largest population of veterans in the country at nearly 1.5 million. According to the census bureau, 80,000 live in Jacksonville.

According to Bill Spann, the city's director of military affairs, the research and data provided by the survey's success could play a critical role in planning and policy.

"We want a blank slate, I have personal opinions, I have professional opinions based on this job of seven years, but I don't want to color the data beforehand," Spann said. "I want to see what the veterans say themselves, and the service providers, their families. That's what's most important is that we get honest, unbiased data."

The survey can be taken online at this link.

A town hall for veterans and their families to learn more about the survey will be held Sept. 1 at the Salem Centre at 7235 Bentley Road on the city's Southside from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The survey runs through Sept. 21.

Veterans services are available at City Hall every day from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., no appointments required.

Reporter Raymon Troncoso joined WJCT News in June of 2021 after concluding his fellowship with Report For America, where he was embedded with Capitol News Illinois covering Illinois state government with a focus on policy and equity. You can reach him at (904) 358-6319 or Rtroncoso@wjct.org and follow him on Twitter @RayTroncoso.