Montgomery County, Tenn., Unveils Veterans Website
April 24, 2015
Tony Centonze, Clarksville (TN) Leaf-Chronicle
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett proudly introduced the Veterans Network of Care website at an unveiling ceremony in Civic Hall on Friday. The room was filled with dignitaries from Montgomery County and Fort Campbell, including U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn.
"After I was fortunate enough to be elected county mayor," said Durrett, "one of the first things that we talked about as a staff, was building something to help our veterans."
A brick-and-mortar approach would have been expensive, and would have taken lots of manpower. As fate would have it, after sharing the idea with colleagues, a connection was made with Bruce Bronzan, president of Trilogy Integrated Resources.
"During his demonstration," said Durrett, "I fell in love with this site. Within minutes we came to an agreement. That's how hooked I was on this, and that is how much it means to me to be able to provide a service to the men and women who have served our country and who currently serve today."
Blackburn was next to take the podium. She applauded the efforts of Durrett and his staff.
"What citizens and taxpayers like to see is their elected officials seeing a problem, defining that problem and then finding a way to solve that problem," said Blackburn. "That is what Mayor Durrett and his staff have done, by bringing forward this aggregator site which will bring together the resources that are necessary for our men and women in uniform and our government to be able to access the services that they need.
"Not only is this good for the veterans, it is good for their families, because it is a ready resource for them. This site is built to link you to other entities and additional information. It is so responsive to the needs of so many in this community," she said.
Blackburn was pleased, not only with the finished project, but also with the way the goal was achieved.
"We are thrilled that Montgomery County said 'we are not waiting on someone else to do this,'" said Blackburn. "They weren't going to wait on federal funding or state funding, they were simply going to solve this problem. And they have done that in the right way, on an effective time line and to the benefit of the citizens of this county. I congratulate you and thank you for letting me stop in with you this afternoon."
Command Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Espinoza, Jr., expressed what certainly must be a goal of many in Clarksville-Montgomery County.
"I'm fired up that we are doing stuff for veterans," said Espinoza. "This is something that is deep in my heart. I like to take care of soldiers and retirees and veterans. I'm so glad the relationship within our community continues to grow. We continue to forge great relations between Montgomery County and Fort Campbell and the veterans and retirees we all serve. We want our soldiers and their families to come to Fort Campbell and love it here. So much so, even if they have to move away, they ask and fight to come back to Fort Campbell, and ultimately retire in this community."
Espinoza sees the new website helping soldiers with employment, education and other services.
"Our community helps exemplify our vision of the best soldier and family experience at Fort Campbell," Espinoza said. "We have to reach out to those who have suffered physically and/or mentally. We have many programs that care for our soldiers, but they don't have that support system once they are out of the service.
"The Veterans Network of Care site will assist veterans and retirees with a one-stop shop of programs and services. This will help us achieve our goal of having soldiers who are ending their tour of duty, choose to stay here. Our relationship is truly strategic, unique and exceptional. We are supported like no other. This program is one of many initiatives that exemplifies our common culture, vision and purpose in protecting our country while sharing an interdependent commitment to each other."
According to Durrett, the site already has 195 different service providers that will attend to the needs of veterans and their family members. The site has more than 20,000 pages of info at your fingertips 24/7, 365 days a year, the majority of which are only three clicks away from the home page.
Bronzan was complimentary of Durrett and his team as well, before giving a brief tour of the site and its functionality.
"This has to be the best group of people we have worked with during the past 18 years," said Bronzan. "In that time we have built over 600 websites, but these guys brought a creative energy that was different. They believe in what they are doing, they are passionate about it. They know they are helping people and it comes from their heart. We were struck by this ... you have to be very proud of what had been organized and developed before we ever came on the scene. They set the stage, created a perfect match and together we have built the richest site that we have in this country, for veterans."