More than 1.5 million veterans call Florida home, thanks to its strong connection to the aerospace/aviation industry, veteran benefits, enjoyable climate, and veteran benefits. By learning about and connecting to the long list of available benefits, Florida veterans can make the most of their budgets and time, making life after their military service as enjoyable and comfortable as possible.
Healthcare is a top concern for veterans and their families, and Florida offers numerous resources to help veterans live healthier, longer lives. With more than 100 clinics and outpatient locations throughout the state, there is most likely a VA health care location near you. VA healthcare facility services vary depending on size, with the largest locations typically offering a full range of health care, in- and out-patient treatments, and surgeries. Many also typically provide support services relating to counseling, caregiver support, and help for homeless veterans. Find a location near you or visit a location in one of Florida’s larger cities. For more information, you can also call (727) 518-3202, Ext. 5562.
Florida is home to 6 Veterans’ nursing homes and 1 assisted living facility throughout the state. Basic admission requirements for these facilities include an honorable discharge, Florida residency for one year prior to admission, and certification of need by a VA doctor. These Florida nursing homes for veterans have earned the distinction of all being rated five stars by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS); according to CMS, nursing homes with five stars are considered to be in the top 20 % and have above average quality compared to other nursing homes in the state. Get more information and brochures on these Florida senior housing options.
The state of Florida offers numerous state parks, ideal for enjoying the natural beauty and wildlife found throughout the state. All honorably discharged veterans can receive a 25% discount on an annual pass to all state parks, and veterans with service-connected disabilities and their spouses or surviving spouses are entitled to a free lifetime pass. Proof of identification, military status, and honorable discharge (for retired military and veterans) are required, and you can purchase the discounted passes at any Florida state park (call ahead of time to ensure availability). Additionally, for hunters and fishermen, the Military Gold Sportsman’s License is available for a reduced fee of $20 to any resident who is an active or retired member of the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. Armed Forces Reserve, National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard, or Coast Guard Reserve (veterans with 100% disability ranking receive it for free for five years).
Operation Outdoor Freedom is a unique program sponsored by the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture that grants disabled veterans unique opportunities for recreation and rehabilitation, free of cost, on designated state and agricultural lands. Eligible veterans have a service-connected disability rating of 30% or greater from the VA, or are Purple Heart recipients. Events include fishing trips, guided hunts, and other outdoor activities.
The State’s Department of Financial Services offers two financial education programs created specifically to assist veterans and active duty military. Financial Frontlines is an online initiative that provides information to help military families fight against financial frauds and debt with the use of an in-depth Resource Guide, a series of tip sheets, and an educational video library. Financial Frontlines covers topics such as identity theft, credit scoring, budgeting, predatory lending and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Serve Save Succeed is a financial literacy resource and online forum for current and former military service members and their families covering topics such as saving, budgeting, frauds, scams, identity theft, and scholarships.
The Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs has created and in-depth Florida Veterans’ Benefits Guide that includes extensive information, contact information, and explanation of all state-provided benefits for Florida veterans. This guide also helps explain the benefits veterans can receive when applying for a state job, veteran-owned business assistance, housing and tax support, and more.
Written by Megan Hammons