The History of the Brevard Veterans Council and the Veterans Memorial Center
What is today the Brevard Veterans Council and the Veterans Memorial Center grew out of the efforts of a small group of World War II veterans who met in 1978 at the Country Acres cemetery in Titusville to pay final respects to a Navy veteran who would otherwise have been buried alone in a pauper’s funeral. This event caused these veterans to organize into a Veterans Advisory Council for the establishment of a veteran’s cemetery and a plot of land adjacent to the County Acres was donated for that purpose.
In 1980, discussions began on building a Veterans Center and the Brevard Veterans Council (a 501(c)19) was chartered in 1990 for this purpose. Also in 1990, they were able to obtain the land at the current location on Merritt Island from the Brevard County Commissioners. The Veterans Memorial Park was dedicated on November 3, 1990 by representatives from 41 veteran’s organizations. The Veterans Memorial Center (a 501(c)3) was chartered in 1991 to assume responsibility for running the facilities, which included a museum and media center covering US military history, meeting rooms and offices, a 140 seat auditorium and a raised wood walkway along Sykes Creek.
In addition, there is outdoor space for large museum artifacts and a memorial plaza. The first artifact, a Vietnam-era UH-1H Huey helicopter was placed on display in 2003. The Veterans Memorial Garden Plaza was dedicated November 11, 2010.
Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004 significantly damaged the facility. The Huey helicopter, along with a Cobra helicopter were damaged, taking a year to repair. The Center building received significant water damage, requiring two years of repairs before the museum could reopen.
Since 1990 there has also been a Disabled American Veterans office at the Veterans Center providing free, professional assistance to veterans and their families in obtaining benefits and services earned through military service and provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other government agencies.
In 2015, an appropriation was received from the State of Florida to expand the capabilities of the Veterans Memorial Center. The money was earmarked to build a new museum building, retrofit the existing building to better serve veterans, and provide additional jobs for veterans. The Grand Opening was held November 11, 2016.