Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT

Only about eight months ago, Jacksonville's Five Star Veterans Center didn’t know from one day to the next whether it's doors would remain open.

Today, not only is the facility for homeless military veterans still open, it’s getting a facelift thanks to about 100 local volunteers and big box hardware retailer The Home Depot.

CEO Len Loving was amazed on Thursday as volunteers began renovations.

"They’re all over the place like ants, outside doing the landscaping as well as doing the inside," he said.

Blues Legend In Jax For Veterans Benefit Concert

Oct 18, 2013

American blues legend Bill Homan, professionally known as Watermelon Slim, will perform October 24 at Jacksonville’s Friday Musicale auditorium.

Slim has been performing since the 1970s with some of the biggest names in blues, artists like John Lee Hooker, Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt, and many others.

"He’s interacted with some of the best there is," said event organizer Willie Hager. "He’s come a long way from learning to play the guitar in Vietnam."

Slim, a W. C. Handy Award nominee, has a prestigious blend of Delta blues, Chicago blues and trucker music — all rolled into one.

The Friday Musicale venue features a large, Colonial-style auditorium where people regularly hear classical chamber music from symphonies and orchestras.

"We’re going to light it up with some blues," Hager said.

The event is being presented by Vietnam Veterans Against the War-Old School Sappers and Occupy Jacksonville. Hager said he and Slim are both from the VVAW, which is part of a broader group of veteran organizations under the United Veteran’s Front.

"The way we approach people is through transformational organizing," said Hager.

Eleanor Wilson, Finance Director for Occupy Jacksonville, said she hopes the event will raise awareness and funding for local projects.

Hager said people need to know the occupy movement isn’t simply about camping out somewhere.

"It’s really about empowering people," he said.

Slim will perform at the Friday Musicale auditorium 8:00 p.m. Oct. 24. Buy tickets at the door, or online at Ticket River.

CPT Christopher Neeley / DVIDS

The city of Jacksonville is hosting a free career counseling seminar this afternoon for military veterans who are looking for work in the civilian job market.

Ken Johnson is the Senior Policy Advisor to the Mayor for Military Affairs.

He says even though it’s called a seminar, there’s a lot of one-on-one counseling that takes place as well.

 "What they need to do is come in and sit down and talk with somebody who can walk them through things they need to know.  If they have a resume, bring it.  We’ll critique it," he said.

University of California Press

Prescribed opiates for veterans in the Jacksonville hospital system has grown overall from 2001, when there were 45 prescriptions for every 100 veterans, to 80 prescriptions for every 100 veteran patients in 2012.

A recently published investigative report found that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been prescribing the potent drugs and feeding addictions.

Following his story's airing on WJCT during the pilot episode of a new investigative news program Reveal, the Center for Investigative Reporting's Aaron Glantz spoke with WJCT's Michelle Corum about the VA's "opiate overload."

Click here to read Aaron Glantz's story from Reveal

The World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., has become a flashpoint as the partial government shutdown continues.

First there was the attention paid on Tuesday when a group of WWII veterans (with some help from Republican members of Congress and their staffs) ignored barricades and went through with their long-planned visit to the site.

An ex-military intelligence officer who prosecutors say siphoned millions from a bogus charity for U.S. Navy veterans is going on trial in Ohio.

The 67-year-old defendant calls himself Bobby Thompson, but authorities say his real name is John Donald Cody. He was arrested last year in Portland, Ore., after two years on the run, and is charged with masterminding a $100 million multistate fraud using a charity called United States Veterans Association, based in Tampa, Fla.

Courtesy of Greg Waggoner

Before dawn, a government van picked up paratrooper Jeffrey Waggoner for the five-hour drive to a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in southern Oregon. His orders: detox from a brutal addiction to painkillers.

He had only the clothes on his back, his watch, an MP3 player and a two-page pain contract the Army made him sign, a promise to get clean.

The future suddenly looks a lot brighter for the Five STAR Veterans Center in Jacksonville.  After months of waiting, the center today received a signed letter from the state of Florida saying its land and its bank accounts are safe from seizure.

The center had been in danger of closing its doors because it couldn’t raise the money it needed to keep going.  The problem was its early affiliation with the Allied Veterans of the World whose internet cafes were shut down for alleged illegal online gambling. 

Courtesy The Forty & Eight

Jacksonville has been named "City of the Year" by veterans’ organization the Forty & Eight.

Jacksonville City Council Member Don Redman, accepted the award at the Forty & Eight's convention in Phoenix, Ariz., on Friday, Sept. 13.

WJCT First Read : Monday, August 12, 2013

Aug 12, 2013

Welcome to WJCT First Read, your daily weekday morning round-up of stories from the First Coast, around Florida, and across the country. We'll also preview some of WJCT's upcoming programming.

Following 15 homicides in the city last month, police in Jacksonville continue to investigate the death of 13-year-old Jazmine Shelton, killed after dozens of bullets ripped through her trailer home. (Florida Times-Union)