A Beach Day at Anastasia State Park

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Posted: 12/14/2017 | By: Florida Park Service

This past Veteran’s Day, Jerry Morris and his family visited Anastasia State Park to spend a day at the beach. Jerry is a combat veteran who was badly injured in the line of duty and has since had difficulty with mobility. When his family arrived at the park, the Ranger station was notified of the need and was immediately ready to assist.

Particularly, Ranger Billy McNaught, also a combat veteran, was eager to assist a fellow brother-in-arms. One of the other Rangers who assisted had this to say:

“The beach is the perfect place to relax and wash your woes away, however it’s not always easy for everybody to access it. It was Veteran’s Day when I met Jerry Morris, a warm-hearted man just looking to take his wife and two children to the beach for a good time. However, he needed a helping hand.

Morris is a disabled combat veteran who was badly injured in the line of duty years ago. Today, this prevents him from accessing most beaches, however that doesn’t hold him back at Anastasia State Park.

Upon receiving a call at the Ranger Station regarding the Morris family’s arrival, Billy McNaught, an Anastasia State Park Ranger who is also a combat veteran, grabbed a UTV and was ready to assist.

Equipped with chairs, canopy, bags, and the tools for a good time, the Morris family came prepared as McNaught escorted them to a nice spot right on the beach and helped set up their gear.

With the aid of the park’s rangers, the Morris family has been able to enjoy Anastasia State Park’s beach for three years now. 'It’s a good thing,' Morris said, 'I come out here and it just gives me resolution, with my PTSD and all that… It really is a helpful thing for our veterans, or anybody else who can’t get out there.'

Hours later when the Morris family was ready to pack up and leave, McNaught and I hit the beach to help. We loaded up and took them to their vehicle. 'I was very honored to be able to help,' McNaught said as he shook Morris’ hand farewell. While I thanked him for his service, the children played around him, still excited from their beach adventure.

It was amazing to be able to be a part of making this family’s Veteran’s Day a wonderful experience. And although it may be a different uniform, it was special to see a veteran serving his fellow brother in arms.”

All of us at Florida State Parks are delighted to hear of our staff serving and connecting with our Florida community through our ambition for creating Access for All.