TALLAHASSEE – Governor Ron DeSantis signed eight bills to support Florida’s military members and their families. Florida is the most military-friendly state in the nation and is home to nearly 1.5 million veterans, the third largest veteran population in the country. Bills signed by the Governor will support veteran education and training opportunities, expand veteran benefits, and strengthen long-term care for Florida’s veterans and their families.
“Florida is the most military and veteran friendly state in the nation and through this legislation, we are further supporting our military, veterans and their families with the resources they need while they are serving and after they have fulfilled their duty,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
Senate Bill (SB) 732 establishes the Collegiate Purple Star Campuses Program to support military members, veterans, and their families while they are attending a Florida college or university. This bill requires institutions who wish to be designated a Collegiate Purple Star Campus to:
SB 274 creates the “Pathway for Military Combat Medics Act.” The Act will give military combat veterans postsecondary course credit for their military combat medic training to be used toward a nursing education program. This will allow veterans to earn their nursing education degree more quickly and at a lower cost.
House Bill (HB) 139 makes it easier for military veterans and their spouses to transition to civilian life in Florida. This bill establishes the Office of Veteran Licensure Services within the Department of Health to provide information and assistance with health care licensure processes for all veterans and their spouses. Additionally, this bill requires Veterans Florida to assist veterans and their spouses with access, training, education, and employment in Florida’s health care professions.
HB 485 creates the Division of Long-term Care within the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA) to oversee the operations of veterans’ adult day health care programs. Additionally, the bill expands eligibility requirements for veterans who wish to enter an adult day health care program and names the week of November 11 of each year as “Veterans Week.”
HB 635 supports veterans who need dental care by creating the Veterans Dental Care Grant Program within the FDVA to provide dental care to Florida’s veterans. The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reports that only 15% of veterans are eligible to access dental services through the VA. This program will distribute grants to eligible nonprofits that provide dental care to veterans in Florida.
SB 574 supports servicemembers that are living in Florida who receive military orders to live in government quarters and who must terminate an existing lease agreement. This bill defines the term “government quarters” to include privately owned military housing. This will enable servicemembers to early terminate a private rental agreement if they become eligible for privatized military housing.
HB 621 supports military families by establishing a uniform death benefit for active duty servicemembers of $75,000. Currently, servicemembers who are killed while on active duty and while performing their official duties are eligible for a death benefit of $75,000 while servicemembers who are killed while on active duty but not while performing their official duties are only eligible for a death benefit of $25,000.
HB 1285 establishes the Florida State Guard as a permanent component in Florida’s state militia and creates the Division of the State Guard within the Department of Military Affairs. The Florida State Guard has been appropriated $108 million in the General Appropriations Act.
House Bill 339, Education of Dependents of Deceased or Disabled Servicemembers, Prisoners of War, and Persons Missing in Action, was signed into law on June 22. The legislation broadens the eligibility for educational benefits provided to a dependent child or spouse of a disabled or deceased service member through the Children and Spouses of Deceased or Disabled Veterans Scholarship Program.