Gov. DeSantis signs 3 bills benefiting veterans, their families

Governor visits American Legion Palm Valley in Ponte Vedra Beach

Gov. Ron DeSantis visits American Legion Palm Valley to sign several bills helping military dependents and veterans. (WJXT)

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference Friday morning in Ponte Vedra Beach to sign three bills benefiting veterans and their families.

The news conference started around 10:15 a.m. at the American Legion Palm Valley in Ponte Vedra Beach.

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DeSantis signed House Bill 429, House Bill 435 and Senate Bill 922.

HB 429 establishes Purple Star Campuses at schools across the state of Florida, which are designed to help the children of military families who may have to bounce between schools and districts in the state depending on deployment.

“The bill recognizes that under normal circumstances a military-connected child can expect to move six to nine times from kindergarten through their high school graduation,” DeSantis said. “We understand that people are coming and going from Florida, all the time, we also understand that there are academic challenges that some of these students face as they relocate to new schools when their parents serving in the military is transferred. So this bill embraces military families and ensures access to Florida’s world-class school choice options for every military-connected child.”

The Purple Star campuses, according to the governor, will identify schools that support military-connect children. These schools will have a military liaison to support families transitioning into and out of schools and provide open enrollment seating for military-connected students to ensure school choice.

HB 435 and SB 922 both deal with professional training and employment opportunities. The governor specifically touted HB 435, saying that it could become a model for other states.

“What we’ll do with this bill is break new ground by becoming the first state in the nation to codify in law statewide SkillBridge initiative that matches service members separating or retiring from Florida’s 21 military installations and from those across the country with Florida’s boundless career opportunities,” DeSantis said.

The governor said the bill will allow service members to connect with employment training and educational opportunities. He added it would also allow service members to gain workforce training with civilian employers while on active duty, during their last 180 days in the service.

SB 922 waives secondary educational requirements for state and political entities when it comes to employing veterans. It also requires governmental agencies to develop and implement a veteran recruitment program in order to provide more job opportunities for veterans.

The governor also announced that he would be reserving at least $7 million dollars from the budget of Florida’s CareerSource board to “expand employment pathways, and support services for Florida’s veterans, and for Florida’s military spouses.”

He added, “We are going to be able to use these funds to do a lot of stuff to help Veterans Housing Assistance financial counseling, access to military benefits, mental health and substance abuse counseling, transportation and childcare services.”

Earlier this week, DeSantis signed a controversial bill into law that bans transgender females from competing against girls and women in high school and college sports.

He also signed the state budget at The Garlic, an Italian restaurant in New Smyrna Beach.