For three years, a group of veterans have been trying to add Sgt. Randall Hansen’s name to Jacksonville’s Veterans Memorial Wall.
The Fletcher High School graduate took his own life after two tours in Iraq and a battle with PTSD.
“His family sacrificed for this country, they lost their son,” said Fred Blaz, a United States Marine Corps veteran. “Deaths from combat aren’t all bombs and bullets. There’s invisible wounds of war.”
The local veterans have even formed their own group, Vets for Vets, to recognize PTSD issues and try to get Jacksonville to do the same.
The city has said Sgt. Hansen is ineligible to be on the memorial.
“It’s plain and simple. He wasn’t on active duty when he tragically passed,” said Bill Spann, director of Jacksonville’s Military Affairs and Veterans Department.
While this is true, some claim Jacksonville has bent its own rules for the wall.
Back in July, the city told us that the criteria to be on the wall was attendance at a Duval County High School, or the county listed as the “home of record” service during a time of war, and death during active duty.
Home of record is defined on the U.S. Army’s website as where one enlisted in the military.
The veterans claim the city added names that didn’t enlist in Jacksonville, then changed the criteria.
In November, the city changed the criteria from home of record to legal residence based on an executive order from Mayor Lenny Curry.
There’s an entire column dedicated to veterans who had Jacksonville as their home of record, but now, that criteria doesn’t even exist anymore.
There’s even a Medal of Honor recipient who the veterans say no longer fits the criteria.
“Under the new criteria, he’s ineligible,” said Blaz. “He’s on this wall because he had a home of record in Jacksonville, this is where he joined the Marine Corps. But his state of legal residence was in Interlachen.”
Blaz said other veterans on the wall died in car accidents.
While these names met the city’s criteria, the veterans say Sgt. Hansen should have the same honor.
“It makes common sense to take care of your own,” said Blaz. “And it’s really sad that what’s said to be the most military friendly city in the country, we leave our guys behind dealing with PTSD.”
The city says every name on the wall deserves to be there.
“What we’re doing is we’re moving forward,” said Spann.
A petition aims to get enough supporters to put Sgt. Hansen on the wall. It can be found here.
Spann said the city wants to build a separate Forgotten Heroes Memorial for those like Sgt. Hansen, who lost their battle with PTSD.
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