TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Framework for Freedom Budget provides timely and essential services and support to the state’s 1.5 million Veterans, their families and survivors through the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA).
FDVA is a constitutionally chartered State Veterans’ Affairs department 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.
Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs Executive Director James S. “Hammer” Hartsell said: “As a Navy Veteran, Governor DeSantis is a true patriot who appreciates and understands our Veterans’ community. Since 2019, he and his administration have committed hundreds of millions of dollars to our department, helping to ensure a positive future for our nation’s heroes and their families. Because of his leadership and administration’s collaborative focus on enhanced Veterans’ Advocacy, Florida is the most Veteran sought-after and Veteran-friendly state in the nation.”
Included in this year’s budget recommendation is an increase in the number of Veterans’ Claims Examiners in Florida, reflecting an expanding population influx, the state’s large Veteran population and projected growth of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care facilities. In 2022, FDVA Veterans’ Claims Examiners operating out of VA health care facilities assisted more than 272,000 veterans in providing information and counsel on earned services, benefits and support. In addition, claims examiners have processed nearly 35,000 new claims on behalf of Florida Veterans, and helped recover more than $194 million in retroactive benefits for Florida Veterans and their families.
In addition, one of the biggest responsibilities within FDVA is its network of State Veterans’ Homes. The State of Florida boasts eight State Veterans’ Nursing Homes and one State Veterans’ Domiciliary, including two newly opened homes in Port St. Lucie and Orlando.
Governor DeSantis has proposed funding for capital improvements and replacement of medical and resident support equipment in the state’s veterans’ homes. Other veterans’ home funding includes additional funding to complete the staffing needs for the two new veterans’ homes, an electronic time system and support to ensure all of the homes are able to maintain necessary operations.
The Governor’s Framework for Freedom Budget continues funding for Florida is for Veterans, Inc. (Veterans Florida), and the Veterans Employment and Training Services program (VETS). Veterans Florida is a non-profit created by the State of Florida to help military Veterans transition to civilian life with rewarding career opportunities and entrepreneurship training. Veterans Florida also promotes our status as the nation’s most veteran-friendly state and administers the Florida SkillBridge initiative, which connects active-duty service members with Florida-based jobs in the six months prior to discharge.