TALLAHASSEE – Veterans Florida, a non-profit created by the State of Florida to help military veterans transition to civilian life and to promote Florida’s status as the nation’s most veteran-friendly state, issued the following statements supporting Senate Bill 586 by Senator Tom Wright. SB 586 creates a statewide awareness and employment program built on the Department of Defense SkillBridge Program which allows servicemembers to gain workforce training at private businesses while on active duty as they are transitioning out of the military and designates Veterans Florida as the state’s principal SkillBridge assistance organization to employers and transitioning servicemembers.
“Florida leads the way by establishing a coordinated statewide SkillBridge initiative. Doing so trains the veteran workforce of tomorrow and keeps the state competitive for employers and industry,” said Veterans Florida Executive Director Joe Marino. “We thank Senator Wright for his dedication to military families by introducing this important legislation. Veterans Florida is committed to connecting transitioning servicemembers with DOD SkillBridge opportunities throughout Florida.”
The legislation designates Veterans Florida as the state’s principal Department of Defense SkillBridge assistance organization to employers and transitioning servicemembers. Veterans Florida would inform servicemembers of available SkillBridge training and assist employers with developing new SkillBridge training.
“The Department of Defense SkillBridge Program provides a pipeline of veteran workforce talent to Florida’s high-tech industries straight from within our 21 Florida military bases,” said Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs Deputy Executive Director James S. “Hammer” Hartsell. “Veterans Florida is uniquely qualified to lead the state’s efforts creating awareness of the program’s opportunities with employers and servicemembers and their families.”
Under the Department of Defense SkillBridge program, servicemembers within 180 days of separation may participate in apprenticeships, internships, and fellowships with the goal of gaining full employment upon separating or retiring from the military. Servicemembers maintain their Department of Defense wages and benefits and are not compensated by the employer.