Although he was listed as a “main speaker” on the program, U.S. Congressman David Jolly did not attend the official ceremony today to rename the Bay Pines VA Medical Center to the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center.
For 20 years, Jolly served as General Counsel to Young, who represented Pinellas County in the House since 1971 before passing away on October 18, 2013. Jolly succeeded his former boss in the March special election for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.
“David Jolly is attending a memorial service for a veteran and sends his regrets,” announced Bay Pines VA Director Suzanne M. Klinker, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Young’s widow Beverly was in the front row of the event, and as joined by friends and family.
“It’s a fitting honor for a man who during his lifetime of public service was a devoted advocate and supporter of our country’s servicemen and women. He led by example in providing for their safety and security while in uniform, and by ensuring each had the benefits and healthcare they deserved upon leaving active duty service,” Jolly said in a statement issued prior to the event. “For Mr. Young, our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen always came first. Today we honor that legacy with this renaming.”
To commemorate the renaming ceremony, Jolly awarded a flag Klinker that had flown over the U.S. Capitol.
Jolly was asked to attend the service for Navy Seal Gary “Doc” Welt, a Seminole resident, which was at the same time as the renaming ceremony.
“Obviously, I would like to have been in both places.” Jolly told the Times, “In many ways it’s what I think Mr. Young would have done.”
The new C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center is adjacent to the Bay Pines National Cemetery, where the former congressman is laid to rest.