NORTH OGDEN — Federal officials hope the legacy of former North Ogden Mayor and Utah National Guardsman Brent Taylor will exert a meaningful influence on an important veterans facility operating in Northern Utah.
On Monday, the Northern Utah Vet Center, a satellite Veterans Affairs space that offers a variety of counseling options for combat veterans and their families, was renamed the “Major Brent Taylor Vet Center Outstation.”
Taylor was killed in November 2018 in an apparent insider attack while he was deployed in Afghanistan. He was the elected mayor of North Ogden when he died.
The renaming of the center took an act of Congress, with Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, spearheading a bill that authorized the name change. President Donald Trump signed the bill into law in March.
Taylor was on leave from his mayoral duties while serving with the Utah Army National Guard in Afghanistan. The killing shocked the North Ogden community and the rest of the state.
At a rededication ceremony held Monday, federal lawmakers, veterans officials and others said the naming of the facility is a fitting and well-deserved honor to Taylor and his family.
Candace Monzon, Salt Lake City Vet Center’s acting director, said the center offers readjustment counseling for combat veterans, military sexual trauma counseling and grief counseling for families of soldiers killed in combat. Treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol assessment, and suicide prevention are also provided.
The center is located at 2357 N. Washington Blvd.
One of more than 300 vet centers around the country, the Taylor Vet Center is managed by the VA, but is community-based and staffed with former combat veterans who are also licensed social workers. All services provided are free and records kept are confidential, not shared with other branches of the VA.
“This is more than just putting a plaque on the wall,” Bishop said Monday. “The reason of putting a name on a building is to remember that individual and the characteristics that he gives to all of us. Brent Taylor was a hero. He was a hero to his family, he was a hero to his community, he was a hero to this nation.”
During the ceremony Bishop mentioned a letter sent by an Afghan pilot to Taylor’s wife and seven children, shortly after Taylor was killed. The pilot told the family his association with Taylor made him a better husband, a better father and simply a better person.
“It’s the same concept going through here,” Bishop said. “(A veteran) will come out a better person, a better member of the community, a better individual. So having (Taylor’s) name here is the appropriate thing for this particular vet center.”
Current North Ogden Mayor Brent Chugg, who became interim mayor when Taylor first deployed and then took over full-time after the major died, called Taylor “not a politician, but a statesman.” He said he spoke to Taylor over the phone shortly before his death, sensing the enthusiasm Taylor had for the work he was doing in Afghanistan. Chugg said Taylor’s tone then was a familiar one, similar to what he witnessed during Taylor’s time as mayor.
“(He) dedicated his life to a theme of God, country and family,” the mayor said. “He has excelled in all three of these avenues. His name will be revered for years to come and his name on this facility will be a constant reminder of his dedication to the freedoms of our country and the desire for freedom throughout the world.”
Major General Jeff Burton, Adjutant General of the Utah National Guard, said Taylor volunteered four times for overseas deployments during his 16 years in the National Guard. “Brent wanted to make a difference,” Burton said.
Taylor’s widow, Jennie Taylor, said her husband would have been humbled and honored by Monday’s gesture.
“It was indeed his greatest honor to put on that American uniform,” she said. “To have the flag on his shoulder and to be able to be called an American soldier and to do what so many were willing to do before him.”