Legislature OKs new veterans history program, expanded benefits
Florida seeks to give service members and their families a break on health care licences.

'With this program, the service and sacrifices of our state’s heroes will never be forgotten and their stories will live on to benefit Floridians for generations to come.'

Lawmakers have cleared a bill that would create the Florida Veterans’ History Program and name it in honor of decorated World War II veteran Major John Leroy Haynes.

The bill (HB 1329) calls for the collection and preservation of Florida-based veterans’ stories so they may be shared with future generations.

“When I led the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs under Governor (Ron) DeSantis, I tried to find Florida D-Day veterans to help us commemorate the 75th anniversary, but it was nearly impossible,” Senate Bill (SB 408) sponsor Sen. Danny Burgess said.

“That’s when I first started thinking about how we could preserve the memory of our state’s heroes before it is too late and the opportunity to do so is gone forever. Creating the Florida Veterans’ History Program will ensure that we remember the stories, impart the courage and honor the service of Florida’s veterans. Having the opportunity to not only help establish this program, but to name it after one of Florida’s greatest heroes, like Major Haynes, is truly an honor.”

The bill also designates Veterans Florida as the initial point of military transition assistance for the target market in Florida and defines the target market as U.S. Armed Forces service members who have 24 months or less until discharge, veterans with 36 months or less since discharge and Florida National Guard or reserve members and their spouses.

Burgess worked with Republican Sen. Jay Collins to amend his bill to include provisions supporting and benefitting Florida veterans.

The bill increases the board of Veterans Florida to include two ex officio, nonvoting members appointed by presiding officers in the House and Senate. It also revises the Veterans Employment and Training Services Program to connect qualified veterans to secondary industry businesses and grants; encourage entrepreneurship and grow veteran-owned businesses; and redesignate the SkillBridge program as the SkillBridge initiative.

“With this program, the service and sacrifices of our state’s heroes will never be forgotten and their stories will live on to benefit Floridians for generations to come,” Burgess continued.

“I want to thank my colleague, Senator Jay Collins, for working with me to add some important initiatives to this bill, as well as Representatives Danny Alvarez and Mike Redondo for championing this important legislation to honor and support veterans in the Florida House.”

The bill, which heads next to the Governor for his signature, builds links between Veterans Florida and state agencies by authorizing Veterans Florida to assist state agencies in the recruitment of veteran talent and provide additional collaboration to maximize access to benefits, services, training and education for veterans.

“As both a retired Army Green Beret and a military spouse, I understand firsthand the type of support veterans in our state need and the difficulties they can often face,” Collins said.

“With the passage of this legislation, Florida is further solidifying itself as the most veteran-friendly state in the nation and ensuring that veterans have the resources they need to lead successful civilian lives after their service. It’s an honor to serve as a voice for veterans in the Legislature and help good policies like this that truly make a difference get across the finish line.”

Other features include new exemptions to hunting and fishing license fees for disabled veterans; increased membership on the Advisory Council on Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries to add two veteran appointments from those who have experience traumatic brain injury, chronic traumatic encephalopathy or subconcussive impacts from service, or their family members; and requiring public school instruction on the history and importance of Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


  • Dont Say FLA

    March 8, 2024 at 9:45 am

    This is just white veteran history, right? They won’t allow kids being taught about black veteran history, will they?

    That would be so un-Florida if they did teach kids about black veteran history, but this is Florida. Safe bet this veterans history class will be white veterans ONLY!

  • Andy

    March 8, 2024 at 10:10 am

    Will the Governor and legislature ‘Whitewash’ Veteran history of the 761st tank division, or the Hellcats from Harlem, like all other history lessons?///

  • FLPatriot

    March 8, 2024 at 11:40 am

    Who gives a f*ck. How about passing some reforms that actually do something to help. My FIL served several tours. He lives off barely 1000 a month benefits from both VA and SS.

Comments are closed.


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