An artist rendering of the expanded Veterans Resource Center at Hillsborough County's Veterans Memorial Park and Rear Admiral Leroy Collins, Jr. Veterans Museum that the state funding will make possible.

Thanks to an infusion of state funding, the Veterans Resource Center at Hillsborough County’s Veterans Memorial Park and Rear Admiral Leroy Collins, Jr. Veterans Museum will be able to expand the support it provides to the area’s military community.

The Veterans Resource Center will benefit from $1.65 million in state funds that will be used to expand resources at the facility, located on the grounds of the park at 3602 U.S. 301 N. in Tampa, just south of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and the Florida State Fairgrounds.

The award from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity was made to Hillsborough County’s Department of Consumer and Veterans Services, of which Frank Strom is the director. He said the facility’s enhancements will be apparent to visitors.

“They will experience a 4,600-square-foot educational facility that will connect visitors to our 14 memorials and their military connection and contributions to Hillsborough County,” he wrote in an email. “As both Florida’s population and tourism continue to grow, so do the needs of our park and facility which has become a regional destination.”

The Veterans Resource Center opened in 2017 and will be expanded to include a new Veterans Educational and Cultural Center, which will have a gallery for exhibitions as well as meeting facilities.

According to a news release from the county, “The Veterans Educational and Cultural Center will provide programming and exhibits to educate the community about all eras of military service and the historical connection to Hillsborough County and the State of Florida.”

The Veterans Resource Center provides services that help veterans and their families, as well as surviving family members, in securing benefits provided by federal, state and local agencies, including accessing health care benefits at James A. Haley VA Hospital in north Tampa. The facility also provides outreach service to veterans in assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

Besides veteran-related services, the center also offers information consumers can use to protect themselves from cybercrime, like identity theft, as well as tips on buying a car or asserting rights under Florida’s Landlord/Tenant Law. Workers can also file complaints there about unfair wages or theft of wages by employers.

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Avian-named publications have figured prominently in Brad Stager's career. Besides writing for the Osprey Observer, he started out writing sports articles for the Seahawk, a weekly newspaper serving the military community aboard Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. That position followed a career documenting life in the Fleet, from the Straits of Magellan to the North Arabian Sea, as a Navy Photographer's Mate. Since settling in the Tampa Bay area, Brad has produced a variety of written, visual and aural content for clients ranging from corporate broadcasters to small businesses.