Former Orono Mayor honored by governor

Veterans Advocate Gabriel Jabbour of Orono, MN was honored on Wednesday when Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton proclaimed August 30, 2017 to be Gabriel Jabbour Day across the state. Jabbour received this honor for his many years of support to our state’s veterans.

Jabbour was honored at the monthly meeting of MN Veterans 4 Veterans Trust Fund (V4V) in Chaska, MN. Jabbour received his proclamation from Retired Major General Larry Shellito who currently serves as the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA).

Since 2006 Jabbour has spearheaded an effort to take veterans groups on excursions to Big Island on Lake Minnetonka. The relationship between Minnesota’s veterans and Big Island dates back more than 90 years when the island was home to The Big Island Veterans Camp. The camp closed in 2003 and proceeds from the 2006 sale to the City of Orono are used to fund veterans programs in Minnesota. Jabbour was instrumental in creating a condition of the sale that ensured veterans would have access to the island in perpetuity.

Whether it’s securing funds to make trips possible or physically driving a boatload of veterans to the island, Jabbour has been the one constant of this successful relationship between veterans and the island.

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honor,” said Dean Ascheman, Board Chair of V4V. “Anytime something is needed to keep this tradition alive, Gabe steps up and makes sure this program continues.”
While humbled by the honor, Jabbour says that continuing to serve local veterans is his main objective.

“I have been honored by many people including Governors Dayton and Pawlenty,” he said. “While the honor is great I always think about what more I can do to enhance life for these soldiers who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.”

One such veteran, Bill Cochrane of Eden Prairie, a Vietnam vet who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) says that Jabbour’s commitment to veterans is unmatched.

“I have been on every veteran’s excursion to Big Island and I can tell you they do make a difference,” said Cochrane. “Gabe’s level of philanthropy has no equal. He truly cares for us.”

Having a day named in your honor isn’t stopping Jabbour from planning the next cruise to Big Island. On Wednesday, September 6 Jabbour will once again bring veterans to the island.

“I hope this never stops,” he said. “There have been challenges along the way, but we have always made sure that our friends, these veterans, can always visit a place that means so much to them.”