Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Budget Highlighting Strong Support for Florida’s 1.5 Million Veterans, Their Families, and Survivors
TALLAHASSEE – Thanks to a budget signed into law today by Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs continues to be the premier point of entry for Florida veterans to access earned services, benefits and support. The agency’s budget resulting from the recently concluded 2021 Florida Legislative Session continues its legacy of excellence.
“I’m very proud of Governor DeSantis and State Legislature in championing our agency and the 1.5 million veterans of our state,” said retired Marine Corps Major General James S. “Hammer” Hartsell, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. “Working together and building on our previous veteran-directed successes, we’ll ensure Florida continues to be the most sought after state in the nation.”
FDVA is a 1,500-member constitutionally chartered State Veterans’ Affairs department responsible for serving the nation’s third largest veteran population. The department operates a network of seven state veterans’ homes and provides outreach to connect veterans and their families with earned services, benefits and support. Two additional state veterans’ homes will open in the second half of 2021.
Supporting Florida’s Veterans in Their Communities
The budget supports the daily operations of Florida’s six state-run veterans’ nursing homes and one assisted living facility. These facilities provide essential services and care to veterans throughout Florida.
In addition to the base budget, FDVA was provided the following:
$2 million for final construction costs of the Ardie R. Copas State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Port St. Lucie was funded. The 120-bed skilled nursing home is scheduled to open to residents later in 2021.
$19 million for initial start-up and daily operating expenses of the Ardie R. Copas State Veterans’ Nursing Home and the Lake Baldwin State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Orlando was provided. The funds also will help offset costs of FDVA’s veterans’ claims examiners as they advocate for the earned services, benefits and support of Florida’s 1.5 million veterans.
More than $1.3 million for Florida is for Veterans, Inc. (Veterans Florida) for Veterans Employment and Training Service, which provides veterans with training for job placement, opportunities for veteran entrepreneurship, and SkillBridge, which connects active duty service members with jobs in their last six months prior to discharge.
$500,000 to the Florida Veterans Legal Helpline to provide direct advice and assistance to low-income veterans over the phone, schedule appointments for extended services with full-time attorneys who focus solely on veterans, and coordinate referrals to partners throughout the State of Florida.
$245,000 to Veterans in Crisis Emergency Fund (Florida Veterans Foundation) to add a caseworker, who along with the Executive Director will field calls, verify the needs of those veterans, and directly help or work in partnership with other organizations and provide the financial resources to those veterans.
For more information on FDVA, visit www.FloridaVets.org.
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