Brevard recognizes Lau’s passion as Veterans Advocate of the Year


Brevard Constitutional Officers chose Vanessa Lau — who has a passion for seeking out homeless veterans to offer them help — as Veterans Advocate of the Year. 

The constitutional officers — Property Appraiser Dana Blickley, Sheriff Wayne Ivey, Clerk of Courts Scott Ellis, Tax Collector Lisa Cullen and Supervisor of Elections Lori Scott — chose Lau, a longtime volunteer with National Veterans Homeless Support.

The constitutional officers, joined by State Attorney Phil Archer and Public Defender Blaise Trettis, held the annual fundraising dinner and auction to benefit homeless veterans through the work of NVHS. This year’s event was held June 17 at the Radisson Resort at the Port.

I am familiar with what these constitutional officers themselves do to advocate for veterans, and the fundraising dinner is only a part of it. The event benefited NVHS, whose mission is to end homelessness. I have written about the organizations many times through the years as a reporter.

Blickley said Lau was chosen because of her passion for helping the homeless veterans and the approach she takes, often going into the woods to find those that need help.

“She will get off at 5 o’clock and go traipse through the woods,” said Blickley, who also serves on the NVHS board of directors. “The woman is fearless. She is a great advocate. We are thankful to have her.”

Some of the homeless veterans rescued from the woods benefit from help the NVHS receives through veterans service organizations.

George Taylor, president and founder of NVHS said DAV and American Legion have done a lot to help veterans, including helping to support the work to end homelessness among veterans.

Taylor said he can count on DAV when he has a veteran who needs help with obtaining his benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Since 1993 that has been my number one place to take veterans for their benefits,” he said. “They have officers who have been around for years and years.”

American Legion, Legion Riders and Sons of American Legion are part of the post that goes above and beyond to serve veterans and youth.

“They have programs to step up and help our veterans,” Taylor said.

 Lau certainly does that.

Blickley said the group tries to find someone that does something unique to advocate for veterans and that Lau fit the bill.

“She just has a passion about her,” she said.

This is the third year the event has been held.

Last year, the group chose Robert Rose, CEO and president of Bansbach EasyLift. He hires veterans, many of them struggling to readjust into civilian life after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rose assists those employees, some with visible and invisible wounds, to adjust.

As I mentioned, I am familiar with the work of the constitutional officers on behalf of veterans, especially the homeless, because I have written about the homeless many times during the past 12 years. The group felt that some of my stories made a difference for veterans, including the homeless.

In 2015, I was surprised at the fundraising dinner with the Veterans Advocate of the Year award. It was quite an honor, though was I simply trying to write stories that made a difference.