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Charlie Crist to deliver student-made Valentines to Pinellas veterans

Students are showing veterans some love.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist will visit students at Bauder Elementary in Seminole to pick up more 250 Valentine’s Day cards honoring Pinellas County veterans.

The students made the cards to show support and offer their thanks for military heroes.

Crist, along with members of the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, will deliver the cards, as well as those from 12 other schools, to veterans at the Bay Pines Veterans Affairs Center.

Crist has long been a champion for local veterans, following in the footsteps of the late C.W. Bill Young who served the district for more than 40 years before his death in 2013. Veteran support in the district continued with Crist’s predecessor David Jolly, and now Crist carries the torch.

Pinellas County is home to more than 85,000 veterans, according to the United States Census Bureau.

Last year, Crist secured $25 million in the 2020 federal budget for veterans treatment courts to help nonviolent veteran offenders have better outcomes when facing charges.

“Our service members answer the call of duty and risk their lives to protect our nation. Unfortunately, after military service, too many veterans experience mental health issues, substance abuse, and homelessness,” Crist said last May. “Treatment courts offer veterans facing nonviolent charges a second chance, keeping them out of jail and into the counseling, care, and support they need to heal.”

In December, Crist joined Republican U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis in writing a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis asking him to implement a statewide program to better track veteran suicide so leaders on the issue can have a more accurate view of the scope of suicide rates among veterans.

Crist’s Valentine’s Day event begins at 10 a.m. Friday at Bauder Elementary School, at 12755 86th Ave. N. in Seminole. The Bay Pines veterans facility is  at 10000 Bay Pines Blvd., west of the Tyrone area.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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