Some veteran memorials have fallen on hard economic times, but the Santa Rosa County Veterans Memorial Plaza is on very solid ground today and for many years to come.

Veteranís Memorial Plaza located on South Willing Street in Milton is one of the cityís and countyís most valuable and also most valued assets.

Dedicated as a Veterans Memorial in 2004, the Plaza property is owned by Santa Rosa County but managed by Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Foundation, a private foundation formed in 2010.

Unlike some other veterans-related organizations in the area, Veteranís Memorial Plaza was conceived and built with a combination of public and private input and funds for $489,000.

A vision of what now stands as one of the most visible and stable veteran memorial properties was formed some 15 years ago when representatives from area veterans groups and a county commissioner began work to make that vision a reality. It was Commissioner Don Salter who first got the county involved, and today he continues to be one of the Plazaís most ardent supporters. It was through his initial efforts and influence that county support and commitment to the tune of a half million dollars was secured.

Veteranís Memorial Plaza General Manager Ralph Nesenson says that construction plans were formed and carried out under the foundation structure of the Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce. It was under the umbrella coverage of the chamberís foundation that the Plaza took shape. In 2010 the Veterans Memorial Plaza Foundation  applied for a charter in its own right. The approval process took two years, but when it was approved, it was backdated to 2010.

Nesenson said the new Foundation covers a wider range of veterans affairs than just the Memorial Plaza. It dedicates its entire efforts to veterans activities and veterans assistance, including transportation to and from clinics, access ramps, and in some cases weatherization, among others.

Nesenson also indicated that careful planning and attention to detail have assured the Veterans Memorial Plaza of strong financial footing. He says proper cultivation of private charitable funding sources are always advisable and that his office is making the most of what is available.