Governor Ron DeSantis Highlights Florida’s Commitment to Serving State’s 1.5 Million Veterans
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Governor also awards $1.5 million for veterans recovering from substance abuse

For Immediate Release: November 11, 2022

Contact: Governor's Press Office, (850) 717-9282, Communications@eog.myflorida.com

Governor Ron DeSantis Highlights Florida's Commitment to Serving State's 1.5 Million Veterans

Governor also awards $1.5 million for veterans recovering from substance abuse

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis highlighted Florida's commitment to serving the state's 1.5 million veterans through state programs and initiatives that provide resources and opportunities that help build the future success of Florida's veterans. As the nation's most veteran-friendly state, Florida's state agencies and partners offer an abundance of resources and opportunities to help veterans find meaningful employment, support their families, and contribute to their communities.

As a part of this commitment, Governor DeSantis also awarded $1.5 million to provide transitional housing for Floridians and veterans recovering from substance abuse through the Recovery Housing Program (RHP). Assistance available through this funding includes relocation payments, rental assistance, new construction, acquisition, and/or rehabilitation of housing facilities. For more information about the Recovery Housing Program, visit www.FloridaJobs.org/RHP.

"Florida's veterans have made countless sacrifices to protect our freedoms, and in return we are working hard to ensure they have the resources and support they need to be successful and take care of their families," said Governor Ron DeSantis. "My administration will continue to invest in our veterans in the same way that they made sacrifices to invest in the freedom of our nation."

Florida Department of Veterans Affairs

The Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs (FDVA) is ‎a nearly 1,500-member ‎constitutionally chartered State Veterans' Affairs department with ‎a ‎‎$171 ‎million annual budget ‎responsible for serving the nation's third largest veteran ‎‎population. ‎Operating as the premier point of entry for Florida's 1.5 million veterans, FDVA ‎‎operates a ‎‎network of nine state veterans' homes and provides statewide outreach to connect ‎‎veterans ‎‎with their earned services, benefits and support. The agency's veterans' claims examiners play a ‎major role in the direct infusion of more than ‎‎$23.9 billion annually for veterans into Florida's ‎economy through federal compensation, ‎education and pension benefits, U.S. Department of ‎Veterans Affairs' medical services and ‎military retired pay. ‎

‎"On this Veterans Day, we're very appreciative of Governor DeSantis' unwavering support of ‎‎Florida's 1.5 million veterans, their families, and survivors," ‎said retired Marine ‎Corps Major General James ‎S. "Hammer" Hartsell, Executive ‎Director of ‎the ‎Florida Department of ‎Veterans' Affairs. "Florida offers unique benefits such as in-state tuition rates for veterans and their families using ‎the Post-9/11 GI Bill, several layers of property tax exemptions, expanded veterans' preference, ‎and extensive benefits, licensure and fee waivers for many activities and occupations. Working ‎together toward a positive future for Florida veterans and their families, ‎we'll ‎ensure the ‎Sunshine State continues ‎to be the most veteran sought after state in ‎the nation. We are ‎honored to serve you.‎"

Veterans Florida

Veterans Florida is a non-profit created by the State of Florida to promote Florida's status as the nation's most veteran-friendly state and help military veterans and their families transition to civilian life with career and entrepreneurship opportunities through Florida's Veterans Employment and Training Services (VETS) Program. Their mission can be summed up in the theme – Your Pursuit. Our Power. – because they recognize military veterans are incredibly focused and will succeed in achieving their personal and professional goals when they take advantage of powerful tools and resources.

"Under Governor Ron DeSantis' leadership, Florida leads the nation in creating opportunities for veterans and separating or retiring servicemembers, and their personal success stories prove it," said Veterans Florida Executive Director Joe Marino. "The Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program is the state's largest creator of veteran-owned businesses, and our first-in-the-nation statewide SkillBridge initiative is a model for other states."

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Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

Job fairs through the Paychecks for Patriots program are being held across the state throughout the month of November to help build connections between veteran job seekers and Florida's job creators. The program is a partnership between the Florida  Department of Economic Opportunity, the CareerSource Florida network, and participating Florida employers.

"Florida's military community brings invaluable skill and experience to our workforce and contributes greatly to our state's economic success. We honor Florida's veterans each day, and today we reaffirm our commitment to supporting them," said Secretary Dane Eagle of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). "Under Governor DeSantis' leadership, DEO is proud to connect veterans with meaningful employment opportunities and resources to help them prosper."

"The CareerSource Florida network is honored to help military veterans and their families connect with rewarding careers and help Florida's veteran-friendly businesses make great hires," said CareerSource Florida President and CEO Michelle Dennard. "With Paychecks for Patriots hiring events across the state this month, the Military Family Employment Advocacy Program at key locations to support spouses and dependents, and dedicated staff who are veterans themselves, it is our privilege to serve those who have served our country."

In addition to the Recovery Housing Program and Paychecks for Patriots program, DEO administers the Florida Law Enforcement Recruitment Bonus Payment Program, which  awards a $5,000 bonus to newly employed sworn law enforcement officers in the state. The program incentivizes a career in law enforcement, which provides an excellent opportunity for veterans to continue serving their communities as they support their families.

DEO is hosting its annual Florida Veterans Workforce Summit November 15-18, 2022, to provide statewide training on its Jobs for Veterans' State Grant. The training prepares Local Workforce Development Board staff to support veterans, transitioning service members, and eligible spouses as they find and begin meaningful careers.

Florida Housing Finance Coalition (Florida Housing)

To support frontline community workers, including veterans, Florida Housing's Hometown Heroes Housing Program provides down payment and closing cost assistance to first-time, income-qualified homebuyers. Eligible frontline workers include active military, veterans, law enforcement officers, firefighters, educators and healthcare professionals.

The Florida Hometown Heroes Loan Program also offers a lower first mortgage rate and additional special benefits to veterans and military personnel. To date, 581 active military, veterans or surviving spouses have utilized the Hometown Heroes program to purchase a home. That represents 36% of all finalized loans given out through the program.

Enterprise Florida, Inc.

Enterprise Florida, Inc. works to support policies, programs and benefits to ensure service members, veterans and their families are welcomed and successful during their time in Florida, whether for one assignment or the rest of their lives. EFI also publishes the Advantage Florida Military Benefits Guide, a summary of state laws, policies, programs, and benefits for active duty, national guard and reserve servicemembers, veterans, retirees, and military families. Earlier this month, Enterprise Florida partnered with Veterans Florida to host a National Veterans Small Business Veterans Week Webinar to promote the resources and opportunities that make Florida the top state for veteran entrepreneurs.

"Every service member who serves in Florida is a potential Florida veteran. That's why we want every installation in Florida to be the best Air Force, Navy, Marine, Army, or Space Force base not only in the state but in the country," said Florida Deputy Secretary of Commerce Laura DiBella. "Enterprise Florida and the Florida Defense Support Task Force work tirelessly to support the state's military-friendly environment for service members, military families, veterans and businesses that bring military and defense-related jobs to the state."

Florida Department of Education (DOE)

The Florida Department of Education administers the Military Veterans Certification Pathway, a unique opportunity for Florida's talented veterans to obtain a 5-year temporary teaching certificate prior to earning their bachelor's degree. Specific eligibility requirements can be found at: https://www.fldoe.org/veterans/.  This new pathway helps veterans begin a career in Florida's top-ranked education system while bringing unique value to school districts looking for talent.

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DOE also offers certification fee and certification exam fee waivers for active duty military personnel, honorably discharged veterans and their spouses or surviving spouses.

"In the most military-friendly state in the nation, the Florida Department of Education is proud to offer veterans a longer runway to becoming a fully certified educator," said Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. "We know the unique experience and value that our veterans bring to the classroom, which is why we're committed to providing streamlined opportunities for those who served our nation."

Florida Department of Children and Families

The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has worked with FDVA and First Lady Casey DeSantis to launch the Continue the Mission initiative, which recruits veterans and military spouses to be child protective investigators, mentors, and case managers. Since the launch of this program in June 2022, DCF has hosted dozens of job fairs for veterans, and has had more than 450 individuals apply to be a part of this program.

"Our Department interacts daily with children and families who need support and reassurance through stressful situations," said Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris. "Veterans possess a wealth of knowledge and experience operating in high stress environments, so it makes perfect sense to tap into this labor force as we work to fill critical positions. We are so grateful for First Lady Casey DeSantis' leadership in spearheading the Continue the Mission effort and look forward to continuing our recruitment efforts for those who want to continue to serve their communities."

Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation

The Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation waives professional licensing fees for Active Duty, Veterans, and Spouses.

"Waiving professional licensing fees for active duty service members, veterans and spouses is one of the many ways the Department supports the sacrifices made by military personnel and their families," said DBPR Secretary Melanie S. Griffin. "Our agency's focus is getting professionals into careers as quickly as possible and eliminating barriers to entry. One of the ways we have proudly expanded such efforts this year is by expediting professional license applications submitted by spouses of active duty military members and processing them within seven days as of July 1, 2022."

Florida Department of Health (DOH)

Through the Florida Veterans Application for Licensure Online Response (VALOR) process, the Florida Department of Health provides expedited licensing for honorably discharged veterans and their spouses seeking licensure in all health care professions. Veterans and spouses who apply through the VALOR process receive a waiver of most licensing fees.

DOH also offers additional armed forces licensure support, including opportunities for physicians to receive a temporary certificate to practice in areas of critical need, renewal exemptions for active duty service members holding a health care license in Florida, and temporary licensure for spouses of active duty service members who possess a valid license in another state, the District of Columbia, or any possession or territory of the United States. Through these programs, the department is contributing to a veteran-friendly regulatory environment that encourages veterans and their spouses to choose Florida for their health care practice after their discharge from active duty.

"The Florida Department of Health is committed to serving members and veterans of the United States Armed Forces and their families. As a veteran, I know first hand the sacrifices made by those who serve our country," said Florida Department of Health Chief of Staff Cassandra Pasley, BSN, JD. "Through the Department's VALOR program, we are able to provide expedited licensing and waivers, for many licensing fees to honorably discharged veterans and their spouses seeking to continue serving the public in a health care capacity. The Department is forever grateful for the sacrifices made by our veterans and their families, and is honored to serve them in these ways."

Florida Department of Transportation

The Florida Department of Transportation serves the residents and visitors of Florida by providing a safe transportation system that ensures the mobility of people and goods, enhances economic prosperity, and preserves the quality of our environment and communities. Florida's transportation system includes roadway, air, rail, sea, spaceports, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities. FDOT is committed to serving the people of Florida by delivering a transportation system that is fatality and congestion free.

"The Florida Department of Transportation is proud to employ close to 600 veterans statewide who have previously served our country in the U.S. military or who are currently active-duty personnel or reserve members," said FDOT Secretary Jared W. Perdue, P.E. "Many of our career paths at FDOT connect the talent, expertise, and skillsets from military service, so we work closely with veteran advocacy groups and hiring events in our recruitment efforts. We are truly grateful to all those who serve and who have served, and encourage veterans, active-duty personnel, reservists, as well as military spouses, to consider the rewarding job opportunities we have at FDOT and in the transportation industry."

Imagine Museum

This year, Imagine Museum in St. Petersburg has launched a Local Heroes initiative to offer free admission to veterans, active-duty military personnel, first responders, and their families. For more information, visit ImagineMuseum.com/PlanYourVisit.

For year-round career services and recruiting, hiring and training assistance for businesses, please visit this link to contact your nearest career center.

Filed Under: Government, State

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