Activist and advocate for veterans and the mental health dies

ST. PETERSBURG — Memorial services for Kevin Scott Edwards will be held 11 a.m. Thursday July 25 at Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church, 4200 17th Ave. N, St. Petersburg.

Edwards was born in Jersey City, N.J., on May 20, 1959, to Odessa Edwards and the late Herman L. Edwards. He joined the U. S. Army after graduating from Snyder High School in Jersey City. He transitioned June 14, in the St. Petersburg at Bayfront Medical Center Hospice Care unit.  His health had steadily deteriorated due to a string of complications resulting from a fall last September.

Edwards was an active member of NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), Bazelon Center, Goodwill Industries, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and FACES & VOICES of RECOVERY.  He was the founder and former chairperson of the James A. Haley Hospital Veterans Advocacy Council. He also served on the Florida State Advisory Council on Jail Diversion Trauma Related for OEF/OIF Veterans and on the Central Florida Behavioral Health Network Board of Directors.

Edward’s volunteer work began with the Salvation Army’s Borden Avenue Veterans Residence in Long Island City, N.Y., when he became homeless for the first time. He worked with Catholic Charities Food Pantries, Swords to Ploughshares in San Francisco, Operation Dignity in Oakland, Calif., Citiview Connections Clubhouse in New York City, Hillsborough County Recovery & Resiliency Taskforce, Department of Children and Families Services and a number of grass roots organizations doing homeless outreach and jail diversion.

Edwards was a Certified Veteran Peer Support Specialist who never failed when called upon to help a veteran in distress regardless of time of day or circumstances. Because of his stature, he was described by some as a gentle giant with a special soul.

He was a well-known popular activist and advocate for veterans and the mental health community. Edwards was a mental health consumer who was diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder in 1994. For the remainder of his life, he utilized rehabilitation programs and community outreach organizations to secure a recovery lifestyle that focused on pro advocacy.

Edwards is survived by siblings Kyle Edwards, Kim Hampton, Dwayne Howard. He is the father of Jonathan, Aja, Kevina and is mourned by his loving grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. He was closely attended to during his final months by Carrie Nero, BG USAR (RET), Elijah Washington, USMC (RET) and other friends.

Edwards’ remains will be interred in the Bay Pines National Cemetery in Seminole. Glad Tidings Assembly of God Senior Pastor Randy Helms will preside at the memorial service and deliver the eulogy.

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