Veterans Recognition Breakfast Being Held on Saturday, Nov. 12

Veterans Recognition Breakfast Being Held on Saturday, Nov. 12

The City of Cape Coral Special Events Division is hosting a Free Veterans Recognition Breakfast on Saturday, November 12. The Breakfast will be held at Founders Park, 929 SE 46th Lane, Across from Club Square, at 9 a.m.

Space is limited, so all Veterans who would like to attend must register in advance by clicking the button below. Veterans who plan to bring a guest must pre-register for two tickets.

This event is not open to the public. It is only open to Veterans with a Military ID plus one invited guest.

Reserve your tickets today here!

Each year, the City of Cape Coral hosts a celebration to recognize the sacrifices that our Veterans and their families, near and far, have made for the freedoms we get to enjoy every day.

*This event was previously scheduled for Friday, November 11; however, due to weather conditions, the event has been rescheduled for Saturday, November 12.*

Gulf Coast Village resident, veteran Halden Wernsing, honored by Hope Hospice

Gulf Coast Village resident, veteran Halden Wernsing, honored by Hope Hospice

Gulf Coast Village resident Halden Wernsing was recognized Wednesday, July 27 by the Hope Hospice Honor Guard for his military service in the United States Navy. The ceremony included remarks by the Hope Hospice Honor Guard, the Pledge of Allegiance and a presentation of mementos recognizing gratitude for Wernsing’s service in the Navy.

Wernsing was presented with a certificate, American flag lapel pin, star from a retired American flag, handmade patriotic quilt and a handmade “battle buddy” teddy bear, which represents the military sentiment of you are never alone in battle and always have a fellow sailor to rely on.

Wernsing’s daughter Sheri Botner and son-in-law Kevin joined him for the ceremony along with his life partner Carloyn Johnston, who is also a Gulf Coast Village resident.

“Having our father at Gulf Coast Village has given me and my siblings great peace of mind,” shared Sheri. “All of our family is out of state, so it is so important to know he is safe and cared for and it is great to see the time they have taken to honor our dad’s military service.”

Wernsing served seven years in the United States Navy first as a seaman before becoming a pipefitter. He spent time aboard the aircraft carrier USS Philippine Sea. Originally from Harvel, IL., Wernsing was a lifelong farmer and found his love of boating while in the Navy. He earned his master captain’s license through the merchant marines. Wernsing was also an avid traveler and diver making over 2,000 dives across the world.

Wernsing and his partner have been part-time residents of southwest Florida for over 35 years and have been full-time area residents for the past 15 years. He entered Gulf Coast Village as a resident four years ago and currently resides in their Palmview Memory Care community.

“It is very important for us to honor our residents’ contribution to our nation and make sure we assist with coordinating with local organizations for ceremonies such as the one for Mr. Wernsing,” said Stephanie Smith, Gulf Coast Village memory support program manager.

“The ceremony was such a beautiful tribute for both Mr. Wernsing and his family and we are proud to have been a part of it.”

Lee County to expand community outreach efforts to veterans at Cape Coral location

Lee County to expand community outreach efforts to veterans at Cape Coral location

A representative of Lee County Human & Veteran Services will offer monthly outreach services to veterans and their families at the Brotherhood of Heroes Resource Center & Museum, 4522 Del Prado Boulevard South, Cape Coral.

The outreach services will be available to veterans by appointment only from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month starting Jan. 19. Services will be available to assist veterans, their families and their survivors make an application to the Veterans Administration for assistance.

To make an appointment, call 239-533-8381.

The Lee County Department of Human & Veteran Services serves as a hub for government, private and nonprofit resources designated to aid individuals and families. Specific program areas are: Family Self-Sufficiency, Housing Services, Neighborhood Building, Contract Management, and Veteran Services.  For more information, call 239-533-7930 or visit

Disabled Veteran Purchasing his First Home Through Affordable Homeownership Foundation, Inc.

Disabled Veteran Purchasing his First Home Through Affordable Homeownership Foundation, Inc.

Affordable Homeownership Foundation, Inc. (AHF) announced that Lawrence Heyliger, a 100% disabled veteran, is purchasing his first home from AHF to be built in Lehigh Acres, FL.

“Lawrence Heyliger has always dreamed of owning his own home, but found himself unable to afford one in southwest Florida,” explained Lois Healy, executive director of Affordable Homeownership Foundation, Inc.

Lawrence Heyliger discovered the Affordable Homeownership Foundation’s website while searching for affordable home builders that help veterans purchase and own their first home. Affordable Homeownership Foundation rehabilitates and builds homes for people in Lee County.

“Mr. Heyliger connected with a home buying counselor at AHF to learn more about becoming a first-time homebuyer,” Healy explained.

“After meeting with AHF, Mr. Heyliger picked out a lot in a location that he liked to build his house. Once the lot and the floor plan were selected, the counselors at AHF worked diligently to help Mr. Heyliger qualify to purchase his first home.”

“Veterans that place their lives on the line for our country deserve the best,” shared Healy. “AHF enjoys helping veterans, especially when it comes to making the dream of homeownership a reality.”

Affordable Homeownership Foundation has been building and rehabilitating homes for veterans, families, and individuals since 2000. AHF has had a veteran homeownership program since 2014 when AHF became a part of the National Community Stabilization Trust Veteran Homeownership Program.

Pictured (Left to Right): Robert Arnal – FineMark National Bank & Trust (the bank financing the construction of the home); John Baughman – Construction Manager for Hemmer Construction; Lois Healy – CEO of AHF; Lawrence Heyliger – Homeowner; and Ken Falvey – AHF’s Property Manager

“We’re grateful to partner with Hemmer Construction on this project to build Mr. Heyliger’s home,” shared Healy. “The team at Hemmer shares the unique vision of AHF. Dan Hemmer, the owner of Hemmer Construction, believes helping veterans is key to giving back to those who have given their all for their country.”

Lois Healy is a veteran and established programs at AHF specifically aimed at supporting veterans in 2014 because the need for veteran housing was great.

“On October 8, 2021, we broke ground on Mr. Heyliger’s home. We expect construction to be finalized within six months,” explained Healy.

“I am excited to finally own my own home,” Heyliger remarked. “I have been renting all of my life, and I can’t wait to be able to have a BBQ in my own backyard.”

20th anniversary 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony

20th anniversary 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony

The Southwest Florida community is invited to join first responders and public officials at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, in downtown Fort Myers for a 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony that will mark the 20th year since the terrorist attack.

The event will be at Caloosa Sound Convention Center, 1374 Monroe St., Fort Myers, FL 33901. It’s free and open to the public. Doors will open at 7:45 a.m.

An array of agencies and organizations – including law enforcement, fire, public safety and airlines – will conduct the ceremony, which is expected to last about 90 minutes. The remembrance ceremony includes a national colors presentation, patriotic music and the reading of names of those who lost their lives in the line of duty.

Brief comments from officials will be made, including Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson, Fort Myers Councilman Johnny Streets, Lee County Commission Chairman Kevin Ruane and Florida State Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka.

The group of volunteers and first responders who are planning the event want to allow the community to “remember our heroes – the ones who served, the ones who are still serving and the ones who paid the ultimate price,” said Chief Tracy McMillion of the Fort Myers Fire Department who also serves as vice chairman of the Lee County Fire Chiefs’ Association.

For additional event information, contact the City of Fort Myers Fire Department at 239-321-7311 or Iona McGregor Fire District’s Megan Contreras, public information officer, at 239-689-9046 or

Wounded Warriors of Collier County wins lawsuit against City of Naples

Wounded Warriors of Collier County wins lawsuit against City of Naples

After a two-year denial of approval for veteran housing in Collier County, Wounded Warriors of Collier County (WWCC) won a federal lawsuit against the City of Naples.

Earlier this summer, WWCC filed an official lawsuit against the City of Naples for not providing reasonable accommodations under the Fair Housing Act to allow more than four (4) veterans to live together in a group transitional home through programming with Wounded Warriors of Collier County.

Current Collier County residential zoning regulations only allow four (4) unrelated persons, to live in one home at a time. The current Alpha House within the Warriors Home Initiative has a capacity to provide services for up to eight (8) veterans simultaneously, meaning there were unused beds and services not being used for the greater benefit of the community. Thanks to the efforts of many, more local veterans will be able to be served.   

“Today the city has acknowledged and affirmed the right of these disabled veterans to housing of their choosing, particularly after having served their country with honor in the post-9/11 battlefields,” said Jeffery Lynne, ESQ, CHC at Beighley, Myrick, Udell + Lynne. 

“As we approach the 20th anniversary of that fateful day, we anticipate that this recognition by the City of Naples will now allow Wounded Warriors of Collier County to continue in their mission of serving these heroes by providing them with suitable housing and support to allow them to build their own lives back, together with their military brothers.”

The courts declared that the City of Naples must provide WWCC with a reasonable accommodation under FHAA and ADA, allowing up to seven (7) unrelated persons to reside within the Alpha House. The Alpha House will now be classified as a single-family residence under the City’s applicable codes.

WWCC President Dale Mullin

“We are thrilled that we can now move forward with providing additional much-needed housing and resources to our local veterans,” stated WWCC President, Dale Mullin.

“Our goal is to make sure that no veteran is left behind and increasing our capacity at the Alpha House is one great step in that direction.”

For more information about the WWCC’s capital campaign for veteran housing, please visit here to learn about the Warrior Homes Initiative.

About WWCC

The vision of Wounded Warriors of Collier County is to see that “No Veteran is Left Behind”. What began as simply a vision to support the Veterans of Collier County through facilitating communication and assisting in partnering local Veterans with needed resources, Wounded Warriors of Collier County has thrived.

Through collaboration with our local partners, we have now served over 70 local Veterans this year as we celebrate our 10-year anniversary. Wounded Warriors of Collier County is a 100% volunteer-run organization led by the founder and CEO, Dale Mullin, who is a Veteran.  A gift of any size to Wounded Warriors of Collier County’s operating budget will help them achieve their mission of supporting local Veterans.

For more information, visit,  or call 239-302-1800. 

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