U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced legislation today to allow doctors at the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans in the 31 states that have established medical-marijuana programs – including in Florida. [Read more…] about Senators file bill to allow VA to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans
Gov. Rick Scott in Ocala to honor veterans
Ocala Star Banner
August 29, 2018
Ralph Tulli of Ocala will turn 100 in December and his voice is barely a whisper, but he still chatted cheerfully, as best he can, about the rich life he has experienced. [Read more…] about ICYMI: Ocala Star Banner: Gov. Rick Scott in Ocala to honor veterans
Operation Donate with Honor intends to help donors spot and avoid dubious fundraising solicitations
Attorney General Pam Bondi, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, the Federal Trade Commission, charity regulators and state attorneys general from around the country today announced Operation Donate with Honor.
Governor Rick Scott today visited USAA in Tampa to highlight $180 million in total funding in his Securing Florida’s Future Budget to support active military, veterans, and their families. He also signed HB 29, which will increase opportunities and reduce fees for Florida military, veterans and their families. HB 29, known as the “Don Hahnfeldt Veteran and Family Opportunity Act,” expands legislation signed into law by Governor Scott in 2014 (more HERE) by reducing professional licensing fees and requirements for certain military members, veterans, and their spouses.
This bill also designates March 25th of every year as “Medal of Honor Day” to honor the individuals recognized with the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force in the Armed Services of the United States. The “Don Hahnfeldt Veteran and Family Opportunity Act” was named after State Representative Don Hahnfeldt, a veteran and a member of the Florida House of Representatives who passed away last year.
Governor Rick Scott visited K9s for Warriors in Ponte Vedra to highlight $180 million in total funding to support Florida’s active military, veterans and their families in his Securing Florida’s Future Budget. K9s for Warriors is a nonprofit organization that works to help military members and veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other traumas transition to civilian life with the support of professionally-trained service dogs.
Governor Scott said, “I’m honored to meet some of our nation’s heroes and the great team at K9s for Warriors who work incredibly hard to support those who serve. As a Navy veteran and Governor of the most military-friendly state in the nation, I can appreciate the service of members of our Armed Forces and their families. We will never stop working to support them.”
Last week, Governor Scott signed the Securing Florida’s Future budget which invests $180 million in total funding to support active military, veterans and their families. This includes:
- More than $17 million for Florida’s military presence and families, which funds the state’s support of military research and development;
- Nearly $2.5 million to support veterans looking to obtain employment, start their own businesses and make Florida their home;
- $1 million for Building Homes for Heroes to build and modify homes for veterans who were severely injured while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; and
- $250,000 for K9s for Warriors to support the training of additional service dogs to continue its great work helping our nation’s heroes.
Petland General Manager Heath Kesner standing with 6 K9 units supported by Petland. (PRNewsfoto/Petland)
Stores across the country provide assistance for more than 135 service and therapy dogs
In honor of National K9 Veterans Day on March 13, Petland and Petland Charities are proud and honored to announce their support of more than 135 service dogs across the country, up more than 35% from last year. Petland is grateful for the work these dogs do every day to help communities, children, veterans and those with special needs. In Florida alone, Petland stores support 24 K9 units across the state.
Petland’s national Community Service outreach includes offering support to local police, sheriff and fire departments as well as support for military veteran service dogs. The assistance for protective K9 units is most often a feeding program, supplies or fundraising for specific items, such as bite-suits or training gear. Support for veteran service dogs often goes towards the costs associated with raising, training and on-going care.
“Dogs play such an important role in our lives, as our pet and companion, but also as a partner or a valuable assistant. These K9 units have a tremendous impact in our local communities and seeing the unique bond between the partner and his canine officer is something special,” said Elizabeth Kunzelman, Director of Public Affairs. “Providing support for these units at a local level is just a small way to show our gratitude.”
This year, Petland became a supporter of the launch of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife Law Enforcement Program K-9 units. Five dogs are being trained and are part of the new program, with supplies and food provided by Petland.
Additionally, Petland supports service and therapy dogs for children and veterans through various programs and outreach. Petland and Petland franchisees sponsor service dogs for Heartland Canines for Veterans, is a 501c3 organization that provides companion, service and therapy dogs for disabled veterans. The average cost to raise and train each service dog is $7,200. Petland, Inc. has committed to supporting the cost of one dog per year for five years. This is in additional to the funds provided by individually-owned and operated stores.
Petland has worked with Heartland Canines for Veterans for almost three years. “The difference a therapy dog can make in the life of a veteran is truly astounding. It is a life-changing relationship and we are happy to be able to play a small part in helping make those relationships possible,” said Kunzelman.
Petland, Inc. is a franchise operation with quality, full service retail pet centers across the United States, Canada, China, Mexico, South Africa, Brazil and El Salvador. For more than 49 years, Petland Pet Counselors have been dedicated to matching the right pet with the right person and meeting the needs of both. To its customers who already have pets, Petland is dedicated to enhancing their knowledge and enjoyment of the human-animal bond. Petland was founded in 1967 and is headquartered in south central Ohio. For more information on Petland, visit petland.com.
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam announced today that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has expedited 100,000 Florida concealed weapon license applications for active military members and veterans since July 2015. Commissioner Putnam moved to expedite licensees for active military members and veterans in the wake of the 2015 terrorist attacks against military personnel in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“Florida should be the most military and veteran friendly state in the country,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “I’m proud that we have expedited 100,000 concealed weapon license applications for our active military members and veterans.”
Active military personnel who want to apply for a Florida concealed weapon license should include a copy of their Common Access Card or other form of official military identification with their applications when they submit them to the department. The department will also accept a copy of service members’ current orders as proof of active duty status. Honorably discharged veterans should submit a copy of their DD 214 long form with their applications.
There are currently 1.84 million Florida concealed weapon license holders.
Visit FreshFromFlorida.com/CWL to learn more.
Also supports Proposal that Gives Free Tuition to Families
of Fallen First Responders, Law Enforcement & Military
Governor Rick Scott today announced that he will propose $178 million in total funding to support active military, veterans and their families in Florida as part of his 2018-2019 recommended budget. He also announced his support for a proposal being considered by the Constitution Revision Commission to provide free tuition to the families of fallen first responders, state law enforcement officers and military members who have lost their lives in the line of duty. The proposal provides 120 credit hours per family at a Florida state college, university or participating technical school. Each family would be entitled to one four-year degree. If passed by the CRC, the proposal will be on the ballot in 2018 and would require approval of 60 percent of Florida voters. The CRC proposal, P 49, was filed by Commissioner Emery Gainey and can be found HERE.
Governor Scott said, “I am a proud Navy veteran and my father served during World War II, and this Veterans Day, I was honored to remember the courageous people I had the opportunity to serve with. There is no greater sacrifice to one’s community or country than giving your life to protect others. We will never be able to repay our fallen officers or service members who have bravely given their lives, but it is our duty to ensure that their families are supported as if they were our own.
“I am proud to announce today that I will propose a $178 million investment to help make sure Florida continues to be the most military and veteran-friendly state in the nation for years to come. Our military, first responders and law enforcement members make the courageous decision to put their lives on the line every day to protect our country, families, and communities and I look forward to working with the Legislature during the upcoming session as we continue to do all we can to support these heroes. I will also fight this year to give voters the chance to approve a proposal to be included in our state’s constitution that gives free tuition to the families of our fallen law enforcement, first responders and military members.”
Governor Scott’s $178 million investment for Florida’s active military, veterans and their families includes:
- $200,000 for search and rescue vessels and protective equipment for our National Guardsmen to use during deployment;
- Nearly $8 million to begin operations at the Lake Baldwin State Veteran Nursing Home, which will allow this facility to serve more than 110 veterans in the coming year;
- $2 million for Building Homes for Heroes to build and modify homes for veterans who were severely injured while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan;
- $2 million for the Florida Defense Support Task Force, which helps support our military and defense communities and the many families who rely on them; and
- $2.7 million to support veterans looking to obtain employment, start their own businesses and make Florida their home, including $1 million for Veterans Florida to continue their mission of helping veterans find great jobs at Florida businesses.
Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson, President of the Florida Sheriffs Association, said, “The Sheriffs of Florida support proposal 49, brought forward by Sheriff Gainey, that provides death benefits to surviving family members of first responders who are killed or injured in the line of duty. Our most important asset is our people, and their families who support them in their service to our communities. Securing the future of our families is a noble act, and these death benefits provide educational opportunities for the surviving spouse or children to ensure they are able to provide for their families and contribute to the economy. We thank Governor Rick Scott and are grateful to the Constitution Revision Commission for considering this proposal as it truly does the right thing for our heroes and their families.”
In 2016, Governor Rick Scott signed SB 7012 which protects the families of fallen law enforcement officers and first responders by providing the fallen individual’s monthly salary to the beneficiary for their lifetime. The expanded benefit applies to all Special Risk class members of the Florida Retirement System. Special Risk includes law enforcement officers, firefighters, correctional officers, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, probation officers, and other employees whose job may put them at risk.
More details on the Governor’s proposed budget will be made available in the coming weeks.
Ahead of Veterans Day, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam is highlighting the services that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services provides to Florida’s more than 1.6 million veterans, as well as some services for active military members. The department works to support our nation’s heroes and their families through services, such as: waiving fees for professional licenses, expediting concealed weapon license applications and providing unique outdoor opportunities to wounded veterans.
“The men and women who selflessly serve our country and defend our liberty deserve all of the support we can give them,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.
The department provides enhanced services to veterans and active members of the military by:
- Waiving the fees for honorably discharged veterans and their spouses to enter new professions or open a business that is licensed by the department so that these men and women can jumpstart their careers.
- Expediting nearly 90,000 applications for concealed weapon licenses for veterans and active duty military since the summer of 2015. Honorably discharged veterans should submit a copy of their DD 214 long form with their applications. More information on how honorably discharged veterans can apply for a concealed weapons license can be found here.
- Hosting wounded veterans at outdoor recreational events free of charge through Operation Outdoor Freedom. More than 3,000 wounded veterans have participated in more than 400 guided hunts, fishing trips, canoe trips and more in Florida’s state forests and designated outdoor spaces. Additional information about the program and upcoming events can be found here.
- Dedicating two of Florida’s state forests in honor of our veterans – Peace River State Forest and Prairie Tract State Forest – and reducing forest entrance and camping rates for veterans to enjoy these great places.
- Accepting relevant military training or education when veterans or active military members apply for private investigator and security officer licenses.
Visit FreshFromFlorida.com to learn more about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, CFO Jimmy Patronis
and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam with Operation Outdoor
Freedom program members and OOF State Program Coordinator David Hunt
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam recognized the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service’s Operation Outdoor Freedom program during today’s meeting of the Governor and Cabinet.
Operation Outdoor Freedom is administered by the Florida Forest Service and provides wounded veterans with recreational outdoor activities, such as guided canoe rides, hunts and fishing trips, free of charge. The program has hosted more than 3,200 veterans at more than 400 outdoor events.
Veterans can register for Operation Outdoor Freedom events here. For more information about how Operation Outdoor Freedom is working to honor Florida’s veterans and how to get involved, visit OperationOutdoorFreedom.com.