Heather Fitzenhagen files bill to help locate missing veterans
Heather Fitzenhagen is hearing frustration among her constituents.

The bill creates a voluntary Camo Alert registry which would maintain information on at-risk veterans.

State Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen is pushing legislation aimed at helping law enforcement locate missing veterans.

The Fort Myers Republican filed the legislation (HB 1051) Monday. The bill creates a voluntary “Camo Alert” registry which would maintain information regarding at-risk veterans.

Included in that group are veterans “known to suffer from a mental illness, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or a traumatic brain injury or is concerned for his or her own mental stability, [and] his or her disappearance poses a credible threat to his or her own health and safety or the health and safety of another.”

The registry would be used to release information about that missing veteran in order to assist local law enforcement and members of the public in tracking them down. Again, participation in the registry would be voluntary, with the decision to join being left to a veteran or their guardian.

A separate bill also filed by Fitzenhagen (HB 1053) would otherwise exempt the information contained in that registry from the state’s public records laws.

“Public knowledge of such information could lead to discrimination against the at-risk veteran, could discourage an at-risk veteran from seeking the benefits of being included in the registry, and could compromise the therapeutic process,” the bill reads.

“The Legislature finds that the harm that may result from the release of the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and other identifying information of such persons outweighs any public benefit that may be derived from the disclosure of the information.”

An individual who creates a false Camo Alert will be subject to a first-degree misdemeanor charge.

Florida has a similar program in effect already — called the Silver Alert program — which helps track down the elderly or individuals with brain conditions that may impair their ability to return home.

As of this posting, a companion bill for Fitzenhagen’s measure had not been filed in the Senate. But state Sen. Victor Torres filed a similar measure last Session.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].


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