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State News

Governor DeSantis enhances veteran care with recent legislation in Florida

Florida – Governor Ron DeSantis has reaffirmed Florida’s commitment to being the nation’s leader in veteran support by signing House Bill 725 and House Bill 1329. These new laws aim to improve the transition for veterans into civilian life, ensure that veterans’ spouses can access long-term care, and expand the range of benefits available to veterans and their families.

“Florida is committed to remaining the most military- and veteran-friendly state in the nation,” stated Governor DeSantis. “We are proud to support those who have bravely served our country, and today’s legislation will help ensure that veterans and their families have the resources they need to successfully transition into civilian life with their loved ones by their side. It will also provide more benefits to veterans and educate future generations on the sacrifices made by service members.”

Key Legislative Changes

The legislation introduced by Governor DeSantis includes significant provisions to bolster support for veterans and their families. House Bill 725 specifically allows veterans’ spouses and surviving spouses to be admitted to state veterans’ long-term care facilities. This bill is a crucial step in ensuring that families can stay together during the transition from military to civilian life.

The Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, which manages 1,102 skilled nursing and assisted living beds across nine state Veterans’ Nursing Homes, is also planning to open a tenth facility. This expansion will make Florida the state with the most state-operated veterans’ facilities in the country. Services provided at these facilities include skilled nursing care, hospice care, adult day health care, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services, and access to wellness centers and veteran service offices.

Read also: Governor Ron DeSantis signs budget for fiscal year 2024-2025 focusing on key investments and tax relief

House Bill 1329 focuses on expanding and improving programs for veterans within Florida. This bill enhances the Veterans Employment and Training Services Program, which helps veterans and their spouses find employment in their preferred industries, encourages entrepreneurship among veteran-owned businesses, and prioritizes training and certification. Additionally, it increases the board of directors for Veterans Florida, a non-profit aimed at aiding military transition, from nine to eleven members.

New Benefits and Educational Programs

The new legislation also introduces several other benefits. These include a fee exemption on hunting and fishing licenses for honorably discharged veterans with qualifying disabilities and the creation of educational programs in public schools about the history and significance of Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

Furthermore, the Major John Leroy Haynes Florida Veterans’ History Program has been established to record and preserve the stories of Florida’s veterans for future generations. This initiative highlights the state’s dedication to honoring and remembering the contributions of its veterans.

Community and Legislative Support

“Today’s bill signing is an important milestone as we proudly serve Florida’s Veterans with purpose and passion,” said retired Marine Corps Major General James S. Hartsell, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. “Admitting eligible spouses and surviving spouses into our State Veterans’ Homes is another great accomplishment to keep Florida the most veteran-friendly and sought-after state in the Nation. In addition, the Veterans Bill, known as HB 1329, also creates new awareness programs honoring our State’s Veterans and expands earned benefits for eligible Veterans and spouses. I commend Governor DeSantis and our legislators for supporting these two key bills.”

For those interested in learning more about the services and benefits available to veterans in Florida, resources can be found on FloridaVets.org. Veterans and their families can also contact a State Veterans’ Service Officer at (727) 319-7440 or via email at [email protected] for further assistance.

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