Formerly known as Jax Navy Federal Credit Union, VyStar was chartered in 1952 by 12 founding members with $60 at Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) to provide civil service and military employees and their families a safe place to save and borrow money.
“Our credit union was founded at a time when it was difficult for members of the military to borrow money,” said Michael Cascone, the first Member of VyStar Credit Union and one of the individuals who helped establish it. “Back in the 1950’s, credit was not easy to come by for working men and women. Credit lines were all but impossible to get. And it was very hard to finance an automobile through a bank. What we wanted was a place where blue collar workers could open an account and a place that would provide credit to individuals who had few options.”
It wasn’t until 2002 that our credit union received approval from the State of Florida to open membership to anyone living or working within the five-county area—including Duval, Clay, Nassau, St. Johns and Baker counties—and changed its name to VyStar Credit Union. At the same time, however, we continued to serve and support all the military members and groups we had been serving so proudly for many years. And we continue to do so today, 67 years later, after expanding to serve over 645,000 members—including military and veteran service members—in 53 counties throughout Central to North Florida as well as Southeast Georgia.
Our NAS Jax branch remains active and on base today, serving our military members and their families. Brad Smith, Captain USN (RET) – Naval Flight Officer with 31 years of active duty, has served as Vice President of our NAS Jax branch since 2011. Mr. Smith will retire later this year. His replacement will be Bob Sanders, Captain USN (Retired) – Naval Flight Officer with 30 years of active duty. VyStar hired Mr. Sanders to serve as our Military Liaison and Branch Vice President in 2019 after Mr. Smith’s official retirement.
It’s not only our organization itself, however, that is deeply rooted in the military. Since our founding, VyStar’s Board of Directors has maintained a heavy military presence, and our Board members have held extensive military careers. Many have demonstrated years of service to VyStar and have played active roles in supporting military communities during their tenures.