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Local veterans center suffering after Allied Veterans charity scandal

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Updated: 5/28/2013 6:29 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's designed to help war veterans get back on their feet. Many staying at 5 Star Veterans Center are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Others have traumatic brain injuries.

But the center is at risk of shutting down. It used to be affiliated with Allied Veterans of the World -- the center was formally called the Allied Veterans Center.

[SPECIAL COVERAGE: VETERANS CHARITY SCANDAL]

"We didn't know what to do after that," said the center's CEO, Col. Len Loving.

The day news broke the Allied Veterans of the World was being investigated and dozens of Internet cafes were shut down, Loving said he was left speechless. Funding from the organization kept his center in operation.

"No question about it. About 99.5 percent of all our funding we had," he said.

Army veteran Brett Bell is one of 21 vets who live there right now.

"Quality of life, it's been tremendous [with] what they provide you with here," said Bell.

But Loving said they're only confident they can keep their doors open for Bell and the others through July. New funding isn't coming in.

"It tarnished this place enough where the public perception is we're crooks," Bell said.

Bell worries this will force him back out onto the street. He said it's a true shame for a place working so hard to make a positive impact in our community.

The colonel said all they can do now is have faith enough money will come in to allow them to continue to give back to those who have done so much for our country.

"Our mission is to take care of the veterans who need help, and what happens to us if we don't have the funding? We have to curtail some of the programs that we had that is ultimately to get them through this process to reintegrate back into society and their families," he said.

Loving said any donation, even a small one, will make a difference.  To help, visit their website, call (904) 723-5950 or mail a donation to:

The Five Star Veterans Center
40 Acme Street
Jacksonville, FL 32211
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