By Jessica Tuggle
SEBASTIAN - For the first time in Sebastian's history, the city will have an advisory board to hear specifically from veterans.
The Sebastian veteran's advisory board is made up of representatives of the two larger veterans organizations in the north county, the American Legion, Post 189 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10210. The two posts combined have about 1,200 members.
Sebastian city councilwoman Andrea Coy spearheaded the effort to create the board. A veteran herself, she hears the needs and desires of the veteran community regularly, and believed an advisory board would be a good place for them to speak up and be heard all together, she said.
"I think it's great to bring everyone to the table together to discuss all the veterans issues," Ms. Coy said.
Board members include Chairman Jerry Piper, commander of the VFW Post 10210 and Vice Chairman Ed Irons, commander of the American Legion 189. Other members include Butch Dawson, Donna Goff and Ed Kilbane.
The board will act as other advisory boards to the city do, by doing research and gathering information and bringing recommendations to the city council. The board will be subject to Sunshine Law, as are the other boards, and their agendas and meetings will be open to the public.
"I think the veterans deserve a board and to be heard. It doesn't mean their posts can't discuss things, but this may give them a reason to be proud and say 'I live in Sebastian,"' Ms. Coy said.
Mr. Irons said one major area the board will likely focus on at first are the veteran's memorials near Riverview Park.
The memorial area is the location of many special events, which are growing in popularity, but there is very little seating and shade. Maintenance of the small park will also be important, Mr. Irons said.
Mr. Piper said a long-term vision he has for the board is to find some way to help under- and unemployed veterans, whether it's with shelter, transportation or even employment.
Both men said the board has the opportunity to bring the veterans together, even ones that are not affiliated with either post.
"I think this is an excellent opportunity for veterans in Sebastian," Mr. Irons said.
The board will meet at 3 p.m. in the Sebastian city council chambers on the first Monday of every other month.
For more information about city government and advisory board meetings, visit www.cityofsebastian.org.