TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis highlights Florida’s commitment to serving Florida’s 1.5 million veterans through state programs and initiatives that provide resources and opportunities for veterans and their families. Governor DeSantis set a goal for Florida to be the most military and veteran friendly state in the nation and Florida continues to set the standard for the rest of the nation in supporting those who have sacrificed to preserve our freedom.
“We thank our veterans for their countless sacrifices in order to serve their country and preserve our freedom,” Governor Ron DeSantis. “We will continue to deliver on our promise to be the most military and veteran-friendly state in the nation by investing in support and resources that translates to success for them and their families.”
In addition to services offered by Florida state agencies year-round, FloridaCommerce and CareerSource have partnered to host Paychecks for Patriots career fair events across the state during November, connecting veterans and military families with hundreds of employers across the state. In October, FloridaCommerce and CareerSource also hosted the Third Annual Veterans Workforce Summit, where more than 230 attendees received training for the Jobs for Veterans State Grant Program.
Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA)
The Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs operates 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 $20.7 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.
“Florida is the State of choice for our Nation’s veterans and their families, thanks to the powerful advocacy and heartfelt support of Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis,” said retired Marine Corps Major General James S. “Hammer” Hartsell, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. “As a Navy veteran, Governor DeSantis leads our effort to ensure Florida is a national leader in honoring and supporting our veterans. Florida offers unique benefits such as no-cost benefits and disability claims counseling, in-state tuition rates for those using the Post-9/11 GI Bill, a range of property tax exemptions, expanded veterans’ preference for employment, and extensive licensure and fee waivers for many activities and occupations. Working together toward a positive future for Florida veterans and their families, Florida continues to be the most veteran friendly and sought after state in the Nation.”
Veterans Florida is a non-profit created by the State of Florida to promote Florida’s status as the nation’s most veteran-ready 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.
“Florida remains the most veteran-ready state to work and live thanks to the support and backing of Gov. DeSantis,” said Veterans Florida Executive Director Joe Marino. “Using the SkillBridge program, Veterans Florida aligns the unique experience and skills of veterans from around the world with the needs of Florida employers; attracting nearly 200 veterans from other states who now call Florida home. For veterans pursuing self-employment, we offer training and support for those starting or growing their own business through local partners. In total, we have placed or trained nearly 2,000 veterans who now call Florida home in just the past four years. The steadfast support from Gov. DeSantis and agencies including FloridaCommerce help to make our one-on-one support a successful tool in keeping our state growing and thriving.”
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
In gratitude for the courageous men and women who have served and are currently serving in our nation’s military, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is honored to offer free admission to Florida State Parks for veterans and active-duty military personnel and their families on Veterans Day, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023. To receive free admission, tell the park ranger at a park’s entrance that you or someone in your party is a U.S. veteran or active-duty member of the armed services.
“On this Veterans Day and every day, we must always honor our veterans, their sense of duty and the sacrifices their families have made that allow us to enjoy the many freedoms we have today,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “Thank you to all veterans, including our own employees, who have given so willingly of themselves to the cause of our nation’s freedom.”
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR)
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) has several programs in place to assist active duty military members, military spouses and veterans with the licensing process, whether a spouse needs help applying for a state license after being transferred to a Florida duty station, an active duty member wants to keep his or her license current during a deployment or a veteran is trying to obtain a license with experience earned during his or her service to our country.
Veterans and their families can visit the DBPR co-sponsored OpenMyFloridaBusiness.gov, the state of Florida’s official business information portal, for step-by-step checklists on business start-up information and state licensure requirements.
DBPR also proudly offers an application that waives the initial licensing fee, the initial application fee and the initial unlicensed activity fee for military veterans and their spouses at the time of honorable discharge who apply to DBPR for a state professional license. DBPR has implemented internal policies that ensure applications submitted by those who have served our country and their spouses are processed within seven days.
“DBPR is proud to serve those who have served our country, and our military service programs ensure that we are doing all we can to support military personnel and their families,” said Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Melanie S. Griffin. “Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, DBPR has made large strides in removing barriers for hardworking professionals to get into their chosen careers and support their families as quickly and efficiently as possible. We recognize the knowledge and experience that veterans bring to our valued industries, and we welcome their immeasurable talents and economic contributions in our great state.”
Florida Department of Education (DOE)
The Florida Department of Education administers several programs to support veterans as they transition to new careers.
The Military Veterans Certification Pathway helps veterans enter the teaching profession by obtaining a 5-year temporary teaching certificate prior to earning their bachelor’s degree. The veterans eligible for this pathway will bring their unique skillset and values to school districts looking for talent while earning the requirements for a professional educator certificate.
Governor Ron DeSantis championed Heroes in the Classroom, which offers recruitment bonuses of $4,000 to veterans who enter the teaching profession and an additional $1,000 bonus for those who teach in a high-demand area.
In addition, DOE works with Florida Colleges to implement the Credit or Clock Hour for Military Experience Equivalency List which guarantees military service members and veterans receive uniform postsecondary college credit or clock hours based upon the military courses and training they have completed.
“Veterans, who have sacrificed their lives protecting our liberties, deserve the best opportunities for their future careers,” said Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. “The Florida Department of Education is committed to recognizing veterans for their exceptional skills and training and is proud to provide veterans opportunities to become certified educators.”
FloridaCommerce administers several programs to support veterans as they transition to new careers.
Through the Veterans State Grant Program, more than 44 million dollars has been awarded, serving 9,750 veterans and eligible spouses, providing 103,089 services and placing 7,564 veterans and eligible spouses into employment since 2019. Additionally, in 2023, almost $6 million has been loaned to or invested through the State Small Business Credit Initiative to veteran-owned businesses in Florida. This has leveraged over $16 million in private capital and created or retained almost 70 jobs.
Additionally, Florida’s Military Community can apply now for the Defense Infrastructure Grant Program and the Defense Reinvestment Grant Program to protect and support military installations and communities. For more information, please visit FloridaJobs.org/Military-Community-Programs.
“Florida’s record investments in workforce education, infrastructure, workforce housing, and military installments provide meaningful opportunities for military communities and their families,” said Florida Secretary of Commerce, J. Alex Kelly. “Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, FloridaCommerce is honored to support Florida veterans with resources and connect them with employers who benefit from their experience and transferable skills.”
Last month, FloridaCommerce hosted its Third Annual Florida Veterans Workforce Summit to provide statewide training on its Jobs for Veterans’ State Grant. The training provides Local Workforce Development Board staff to support veterans, transitioning service members, and eligible spouses as they find and begin meaningful careers.
FloridaCommerce invites military veterans and their spouses to attend Paychecks for Patriots hiring events hosted throughout the month of November in partnership with CareerSource Florida.
“Today we recognize our veterans and the immeasurable contributions they have on our communities, economy, state, and nation,” said CareerSource Florida President and CEO Adrienne Johnston. “At CareerSource Florida we are proud to support veterans and their families by connecting them to rewarding, new career opportunities at the completion of their service.”
For fiscal year 2023-2024, the CareerSource Florida Board approved nearly $1 million for the Military Family Employment Advocacy Program, which provides Military Family Navigators at seven local workforce development boards in communities with military bases to provide priority workforce services to active-duty military spouses and other family members.
Department of Management Services (DMS)
The Department of Management Services recognizes the value that veterans bring to Florida’s economy, both as entrepreneurs and in our state workforce. DMS has partnered with Veterans Florida as a SkillBridge employer to attract transitioning military talent.
“As service members, individuals develop unmatched skills across a range of areas, such as logistics, procurement, communications, and cybersecurity, just to name a few,” said DMS Secretary Pedro Allende. “When they choose to transition to civilian life, the Department and Florida are eager to attract veterans that would like to continue serving. We look forward to participating in upcoming Paychecks for Patriots hiring fairs, and support Governor DeSantis’ efforts to cement Florida’s status as the nation’s most veteran-friendly state.”
Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF)
The Florida Department of Children and Families 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.
“Veterans have dedicated so much of their lives to protecting and defending our country and they continue to serve their communities in very important ways,” said Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris. “Under First Lady Casey DeSantis’ leadership, the Department implemented the ‘Continue the Mission’ initiative to actively recruit veterans to fill critical child welfare roles within the Department. We are so grateful to be able to leverage the expertise and resiliency of veterans in serving some of our most vulnerable populations.”
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.
In 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 139, establishing the Office of Veteran Licensure Services (OVLS) to assist veterans and their spouses with the health care licensure process. This office unifies DOH veteran licensure opportunities, such as by allowing 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 the OVLS and its 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 maintains an unwavering commitment to serving our nation’s veterans,” said Florida Department of Health Chief of Staff Cassandra Pasley, BSN, JD, U.S. Army Veteran. “Veteran preference for employment opportunities throughout the Department helps provide veterans a pathway to a new career upon leaving the service. The VALOR process and Office of Veterans Licensure Services implement special fee waivers and expedited licensing for service members and their spouses if they wish to practice while stationed in the state or settle in Florida at the end of their service. The sacrifices service members have made deserve to be recognized, and the Department will ensure help is available as they enter or continue to progress in the health care workforce.”
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)
“The transition from military service to civilian work can be challenging, so we are incredibly proud to continually recruit and retain military veterans to our FDOT team, as well as those who are currently active-duty personnel or reserve members,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared W. Perdue, P.E. “The Department employs nearly 600 veterans, and the breadth and depth of work at FDOT parallels many skills and duties learned through military service to seamlessly transition to the transportation industry. We appreciate all the courageous men and women who have served or who are currently serving that help protect our freedoms. FDOT encourages those looking for civilian work to join us for rewarding job opportunities and career paths that truly impact our communities.”