ST. PETERSBURG — Bay Pines VA Health Care System Volunteer Services was instrumental in securing two grants from the Armed Forces Families Foundation for projects that directly benefit veterans and staff.

One of the projects supported by the grants was the replacement of the pedestrian bridge that crosses over Lake Timucuan, located on the C.W. Bill Young campus.

“The grant proposal for the bridge replacement supports the Whole Health Program,” said Nate Witt, chief of Volunteer Services. “The C.W. Bill Young campus is a beautiful campus to traverse. When not in the midst of a pandemic, the campus is a great place for veterans to walk and ride their bikes, supporting an active lifestyle, which we know is important when it comes to whole health.”

The bridge replacement also benefits BPVAHCS employees who use the path around Lake Timucuan for walks during breaks or lunch, and during special events like the annual VA2K Walk and Roll, said Witt.

“We estimate the old bridge to be around 40 years old, and it has been out of service for many years,” said Frank Jones, Volunteer Services assistant chief. “Having an area for our veterans and their family to walk and relax, greatly lowers their stress levels.”

Construction of the new bridge took two weeks to complete by Speeler Companies, a local marine construction and structural repair company.

The second grant was used to purchase new equipment for a cybercafé in the Mental Health building and to replace outdated personal computers used by veterans who live in the Veteran Residential Rehab Treatment dormitories on the C.W. Bill Young campus.

Armed Forces Families Foundation is a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization made up of volunteers from many communities across the United States. The focus of the organization is primarily on areas of significant need that often fall outside the tight budget constraints of the military and its family support organizations.

For information, email VHABayVoluntary@va.gov or call 727-420-1748.