Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a slew of veteran-related bills into law Friday, including a measure that helps military families select schools tailored to their unique circumstances.
The measure (HB 429) mandates the Department of Education to establish a Purple Star Campus Program in Florida.
Under the program, schools will be recognized as a Purple Star Campus if they meet select requirements such as military liaisons and reserved seats for military-connected students.
“We understand that people are coming and going from Florida all the time,” DeSantis said. “We also understand that there are academic challenges that some of these students face as they relocate to new schools when their parent [who] serve in the military are transferred.”
Notably, Florida is just the 10th state to develop and implement a Purple Star School Program.
DeSantis also signed a bill (HB 435) to make Florida the first state in the nation to codify a federally funded program connecting veterans with job training, apprenticeships, and internships.
“From 2014 to 2018, on average, 16,000 service members transitioned from military service to civilian life each year in the State of Florida,” said Rep. Tyler Sirois. “Many of these transitioning servicemembers face common challenges during their adjustment to civilian life, including the pursuit of training opportunities and resume building.”
That measure, proponents such as Republican Sen. Danny Burgess said, could keep transitioning service members in Florida or otherwise attract them to the state.
“We here in Florida are hoping to be that landing pad, that place where veterans and their families know they can come, and they can start their life after service,” Burgess, who serves as an Army Reserve officer, said.
Not least, DeSantis signed a third bill (SB 922) that will waive secondary education requirements for veterans applying to state and political entities. The measure also bolsters veteran hiring preferences.
“Enhancing veteran preference opportunities expands our ability to attract and retain top talent as another way to ensure Florida remains the most military and veteran-friendly state in the nation,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis also announced plans to reserve at least $7 million to “expand employment pathways and support services for Florida’s veterans, and for Florida’s military spouses.”