TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s newest state veterans’ nursing home will be named in honor of a Medal of Honor recipient from the Vietnam War — Fort Pierce and St. Lucie County native Sergeant Ardie R. Copas. The announcement was made at the Capitol during today’s Cabinet Meeting by Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs Executive Director Mike Prendergast.
The skilled-nursing facility, to be built in the Port St. Lucie community of Tradition, will be called the Ardie R. Copas State Veterans’ Nursing Home. The veterans’ home is in the development stage and groundbreaking is planned for late 2015. It joins a network of six other state veterans’ homes operated by the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
St. Lucie County was awarded the site for the seventh state veterans’ nursing home following a unanimous vote at the Sept. 23, 2014 Cabinet Meeting. Following the vote, the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs invited the general public to participate in the naming process by suggesting eligible nominees for consideration. The agency’s naming protocols state that a nominee must be a deceased Medal of Honor recipient accredited to Florida by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
“We received an overwhelming response for Sergeant Copas,” said Prendergast, a retired Army Colonel. “The community really got behind the nomination.”
Then Specialist Ardie R. Copas distinguished himself on May 12, 1970, while serving as a machine-gunner in Cambodia. When his convoy was ambushed, the 19-year-old Specialist repelled the enemy under heavy fire, holding his post while his wounded comrades were evacuated. He was killed in action and received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions on March 18, 2014.
Shyrell Copas-Herrera, the only child of Sergeant Copas, attended the Cabinet meeting with her mother and spoke of her late father. “I’m so very proud and overwhelmed with emotions and cannot believe that my Dad was only 19 when he did all those things. Thank you to the people of Florida for honoring my Dad and to all the veterans for their service to our great nation.”
The Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs operates six veterans’ nursing homes in Daytona Beach, Land O’ Lakes, Pembroke Pines, Panama City, Port Charlotte and St. Augustine and one veterans’ assisted living facility in Lake City.
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