PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed three military- and veteran-related bills into law to establish a “Purple Star Campus Program,” help transitioning service members gain workforce training, and enhance veterans’ preference in hiring.
“Florida is the most military- and veteran-friendly state in the nation,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “In my time as Governor, we have worked hard to serve those who have served our country by making investments in military bases, schools around those bases, and programs that serve veterans and their families. Today, I’m proud to build on that legacy by signing three bills that continue to provide resources for military service members, veterans, and their families.”
“As the wife of a veteran, I understand the unique challenges that come with military service, and we pledge that this administration will always work to support Florida’s service members, veterans, and their families who give up so much to serve our great nation,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “I know the legislation today will help so many veterans continue to lead — I’m honored to be a part of this historic day.”
Creation of “Purple Star Campus Program”
The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) will establish a “Purple Star Campus Program” to identify schools that support military connected children and demonstrate a commitment to provide critical transition supports to military families by:
- Designating a military liaison to directly support families;
- Updating the school website with resources for military students and families;
- Offering a student-led transition program to assist military students acclimate into a school;
- Expanding staff professional development training opportunities on issues relating to military students; and
- Reserving controlled, open enrollment seats for military-connected students to utilize to ensure school choice opportunities are available to them, regardless of the time of year their military transfer takes place.
“This legislation improves the transition process for our service members and their families,” said Senator Tom Wright. “The introduction of Purple Star Campuses will offer our military children additional resources to grow and succeed in our state.”
“We appreciate Governor DeSantis for signing these important veteran-related bills, which will create additional employment and advancement opportunities as our service members transition from their uniforms into civilian attire,” said retired Marine Corps Major General James S. “Hammer” Hartsell, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. “Working together to ensure a positive future for Florida veterans and their families, we’ll ensure Florida continues to be the most sought-after state by veterans in the nation.”
Supporting Veterans Through Employment and Training
House Bill 435, Veterans Employment and Training, designates Veterans Florida as the state’s principal DOD SkillBridge assistance organization to educate in-state and out-of-state transitioning service members of available SkillBridge apprenticeships, internships, and fellowships across Florida during their last 180 days in uniform and to assist employers develop and implement new SkillBridge training. Service members in SkillBridge gain valuable civilian work experience while maintaining their DOD salary and benefits.
Separating or retiring service members interested in participating in the Florida SkillBridge Initiative can visit www.veteransflorida.org/register.
“House Bill 435 furthers our state’s commitment to providing our service members meaningful work opportunities following their service,” said Senator Tom Wright. “Veterans Florida is well equipped to help facilitate Skillbridge and connect employers with talented and disciplined applicants.”
“By signing this bill into law, Governor DeSantis renews Florida’s commitment to being the most veteran-friendly state in the nation,” said Representative Tyler Sirois. “The Skillbridge Program recognizes the talent, skills, and discipline that our transitioning service members add to the private sector workforce. I am grateful to Senator Wright and the members of the Florida House of Representatives Veterans Caucus for their help in getting this important legislation to the Governor’s desk.”
“Governor DeSantis made a bold statement today and firmly planted Florida’s flag as the top post-service destination for the 200,000 service members nationwide who transition out of the military each year. We thank Governor DeSantis, Senator Wright, and Representative Sirois for their leadership creating the Florida SkillBridge Initiative,” said Veterans FloridaExecutive Director Joe Marino. “Veterans Florida is ready to help employers build a pipeline of military talent that ensures a competitive workforce for years to come which benefits Florida’s economy and attracts new industries.”
Enhancing Veterans’ Preference in Employment
Senate Bill 922 authorizes state and political subdivisions to waive certain postsecondary educational requirements for employment for eligible service members and veterans. It also enhances point preferences given to veterans and their family members when a numerically based selection process is used for hiring.
“It is difficult to quantify what our military men and women do for us on a daily basis — whether they are deployed or stateside,” said Senator Danny Burgess. “Transitioning from military to civilian life can be challenging. Veterans gain invaluable hands-on experience in the field that should translate to educational credit when applying for a job. That is why this bill is so essential for Florida because veterans should not be barred from a job that they would be otherwise qualified for because they don’t have a piece of paper that says so.”
“It has been a true honor to sponsor the Veterans’ Employment Track Act and I thank Governor DeSantis for his support,” said Representative James Buchanan. “This act acknowledges the leadership, military training, and real-world experiences of our service members and veterans. This new law will provide more career pathways, upward mobility, and diverse experience in Florida’s governmental entities. This is a huge win for veterans, service members, and the State of Florida.”
“We owe our veterans a tremendous debt of gratitude and this new law will allow those who have served our country honorably to apply for employment and use their service as a substitute for a postsecondary education requirement,” said Representative Nick DiCeglie. “So many vets come home and have a difficult time finding employment and this bill will get them into the workforce quicker and proves once again that Florida leads the nation in taking care of our veterans. I thank Governor DeSantis for his support and commitment to Florida’s heroes.”