Fallen soldier's legacy lives on with dedication of veteran center for women

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Ten years have passed since Sgt. Simone Robinson died of wounds she sustained while serving in Afghanistan.

Her friend, Sgt. Lavonda Garner, still struggles to cope with the loss.

"She was my battle buddy," Sgt. Garner recalled.

Like many families who have lost loved ones in the line of service, time doesn't heal all wounds. But the loving mother, daughter and friend is still a hero to those who knew her, and now she gets the chance to be a hero to all women who served in the military.

The only military women veterans center in Illinois was dedicated in her honor Saturday, bringing mixed emotions to her loved ones.

"I'm very emotional today, but very happy," said Regina Byther, Robinson's mother.

Her daughter, now 12, stood by at the ceremony Saturday as her mother was remembered for her sacrifice.

"Ever since the day that it happened, every day doesn't go by that I don't think of Simone," said Sgt. Thomas Davis Simone's platoon sergeant.

The Simone A. Robinson military women veterans center will help veterans get counseling and medical services.

"It's like a closure now," said Sgt. Garner. "I mean, I'll never get over it, but I've been doing the work so I can come to this and not get emotionally raw."

The facility in Chicago's Ashburn neighborhood will also work to mitigate homelessness as the only center for female veterans in the state of Illinois.
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