Rick Scott to Chamber: ‘If you’re a veteran, you want to be in Florida’

rick scott 04.13.16

Gov. Rick Scott reiterated his pledge to make Florida the most veteran-friendly state in the nation, pledging to do whatever he can to help veterans and military personnel transition to civilian life.

The Naples Republican was one of several speakers who addressed a crowd of more than 100 business, military and defense industry leaders at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Military, Defense & Veterans Opportunities Summit Wednesday. The day-long event was a chance for leaders to come together to brainstorm how to tackle the issues facing Florida in the future.

Scott, who enlisted in the Navy after attending high school and community college, has made it a priority in recent years to make Florida one of the friendliest states in the nation for military families and veterans.

The state has enacted laws that waive out-of-state tuition fees for honorably discharged veterans and has waived fees for veterans who were looking to start their own businesses.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make it a great place,” he said.

But making a community more accessible to veterans isn’t the only thing policy makers and businesses can do to help members of the military. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, vice chair of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs, said he plans to focus on the transition service members go through when they leave the military.

“(They) can spend six to 12 months training as members of the armed forces, but are only given three to five days to prepare to be successful as a civilian,” he said. “It is our responsibility to give servicemen and women the tools they need to excel after service to our nation.”

Scott said Florida is doing its part to ease that transition. Services are available to people who are looking for a job, and will help them with the tools they need to be successful. And with more jobs coming online in the state, Scott said there are plenty of opportunities for Florida’s veterans.

The veterans’ unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. That was the same unemployment rate for nonveterans in Florida.

Scott said he will continue to work with the Legislature to make sure veterans feel welcome in the Sunshine State.

“We’re going to do everything we can to say if you’re the military, you want to be in Florida. If you’re a veteran, you want to be in Florida,” he told the crowd. “We’ve got a state that cares about the military.”

Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster


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