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Fight over veterans affairs in Jacksonville

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Updated: 9/07/2013 12:24 am
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There are new concerns over how the City of Jacksonville is mismanaging military affairs.

Herschel Allen lost his leg after he was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam.

The veteran now works for the City of Jacksonville helping other vets get the benefits and support they deserve.

"We put ourselves in their place," said Allen. "We ask, 'What do you need, how can we help?' They're not leaving our office if we're not helping them in some way."

Action News discovered Allen's days helping veterans may be numbered.

The mayor's proposed budget called for eliminating Allen's job, veterans services officer supervisor, and another civil service position, clerical support aide II. The move would have saved taxpayers $119,000 per year.

"Military Affairs, Veterans and Disabled Services recommended the reduction of the Clerical Support Aide II and Veterans Services Officer Supervisor positions as the elimination of these positions would have the least impact on the level of service the department provides to our veterans," said a spokesman for the department.

That ignited a firestorm of criticism from council members during the final finance committee meeting.

"Herschel Allen is just a fantastic asset to this city," Councilman Jim Love told Action News Friday. "He doesn't cost an arm and a leg, even though he's given up his leg for his country."

A number of council members spoke out on Allen's behalf stating that he's been an invaluable employee for nearly 20 years who always works hard for the Office of Military Affairs.

"There's going to be a lot more conversation about that whole department," said Councilman Bill Bishop.

Bishop says Jacksonville's Office of Military Affairs is mismanaged.

While the Mayor's Office was working to eliminate two positions, including Allen's job, the department hired two other employees.

The new hires' combined salary actually costs taxpayers $32,000 more per year than the two positions on the chopping block.

Members of the finance committee rallied to restore funding for Allen's job, but it's still in limbo as it has to be approved by the full council during its Sept. 24 meeting.

The local veteran hopes he can keep doing what he loves most, helping his fellow veterans.

"We have a passion to do it because we're all veterans as well," said Allen.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

c9bcrewman - 9/7/2013 6:34 PM
2 Votes
god bless our vet's!!!!!!!!!

Realchange - 9/7/2013 11:04 AM
3 Votes
It's political decision. If you to established veterans doing the job why would you hire new people and axe people who have been good employee's? It stinks and the mayor needs to be asked by the news directly about this junk. Fire 2 people and hire others that cost more is insane.

wishmistress - 9/7/2013 2:58 AM
3 Votes
Don't forget all that lovely fake grass in the medians. Truly much more important.

Dremwolf - 9/6/2013 11:56 PM
2 Votes
So they eliminate two positions to save taxpayers $119,000 per year. But while they are dreaming up this "savings" they hire two new staffers at $151,000 per year. I think someone needs to put new batteries in their calculator!
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