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Florida Veteran & Disabled Veteran Benefits

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Florida Benefits for Veterans and Disabled Veterans

The following are the Florida veterans’ benefits programs for education, housing, healthcare and employment.

Education Benefits for Veterans in Florida

In addition to federal programs such as the GI Bill, there are veterans’ benefits programs provided by the states.

Florida Purple Heart Waiver

Florida waives undergraduate-level tuition at state universities, community colleges, and career and technical training facilities for Florida recipients of the Purple Heart and higher combat decorations in superior precedence.

Here’s what the means. If you have a Purple Heart or any of the following medals, you are eligible:

    • Purple Heart
    • Bronze Star with “V” device
    • Distinguished Flying Cross
    • Legion of Merit with “V” device
    • Silver Star
    • Air Force Cross
    • Navy Cross
    • Distinguished Service Cross
    • Medal of Honor

The Purple Heart Waiver covers tuition and fees required for a degree or certificate program from the Florida College System. The waiver allows for up to 110% of the required hours for any program of study.

The Purple Heart Waiver does NOT cover costs like textbooks, housing, and food. Students can study either full- or part-time.

You must submit documentation showing you received a Purple Heart (or higher), and that you were a Florida resident at the time of the military action that led to the combat decoration.

Florida Undergraduate Tuition Waiver

Additionally, Florida waives out of state tuition fees for all honorably discharged veterans who reside in the state. The Congressman C.W. Bill Young Tuition Waiver Program instituted this great opportunity.

This waiver only applies to those veterans enrolled in Florida public universities and post-secondary institutions. This waiver does not apply to private universities.

The Tuition Waiver Program also extends to spouses and dependent children who live in Florida and are using GI Bill benefits at Florida’s public institutions.

To find out more about Florida’s education benefits, follow the link.

Education for Children ff Deceased or Disabled Florida Veterans

Florida provides four-year college educational opportunities for dependent children and spouses of veterans who died from a service connected disability or who are 100% percent service-connected totally and permanently disabled veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.

For more information, call toll free (888) 827-2004. Dependent children of service members Missing In Action or Prisoners Of War may also be eligible for tuition benefits. Or, you can email osfa@fldoe.org for more information.

Florida also offers a Children and Spouses of Deceased or Disabled Veterans (CSDDV) Scholarship Program. This program is available to eligible dependents and qualified veterans. The Florida Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA) presented CSDDV Overview which provides further information.

RELATED: Tuition Assistance for Service Members

Florida Tuition Assistance

Florida has an independent tuition assistance program called the Educational Dollars for Duty program.

 

Find Your Fit with GI Bill-approved Schools in Florida!

 

The “Educational Dollars for Duty” (EDD) Program

For Florida National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, and can provide public tuition for the period of the Guard member’s service.

Educational Dollars for Duty will pay up to 100 percent of public tuition and will pay private tuition at the average Florida state school public tuition rate.

For more information regarding Florida veterans benefits, please visit Florida’s Department of Military Affairs. Or, you can contact the State Education Program Administrator at (904) 823-0339.

Veterans High School Diplomas

In 2013, the Florida State Legislature granted the Commissioner of Education the ability to award high school diplomas to honorably discharged veterans who haven’t completed high school.

To be eligible, a veteran must meet the following criteria:

    1. The veteran left a high school program from any state, prior to graduation, and entered the armed forces.
    2. The veteran is a current resident of Florida, or was previously enrolled in any high school within the state.
    3. Is honorably discharged from the military.

For more information, call (850) 245-0446.

 

>> Need ways to pay for college?  Search scholarships for military, veterans, spouses and dependents with the CollegeRecon Scholarship Finder.

 

Housing Benefits for Florida Veterans

The following are housing benefits for veterans who live in Florida.

Homestead Tax Exemptions For Veterans

Veterans who have been honorably discharged and also have a rated service-connected, permanent and total disability, as well as being a permanent resident of the state of Florida as of January 1st of the tax year for which the exemption is being claimed, are exempted from taxation for any real estate owned and used as a homestead.

If the spouse of a deceased veteran holds the legal or beneficial title to the homestead and permanently resides there, the exemption will carry over until he or she remarries, sells, or otherwise disposes of the property. In the event they sell the property, an exemption, not to exceed the amount granted from the most recent ad valorem tax roll, may be transferred to the new residence as long as it is used as their primary residence and they do not remarry.

If a veteran is disabled, over 65 years of age, and owns homestead property, they may qualify for a property tax discount based on their percentage of disability. This will be in addition to any other exemptions veterans now receive. The veteran will need to be honorably discharged from the military and be partially disabled with a permanent service-connected disability, where at least part of it must be combat related.

Any real estate that is owned and used as a homestead by the surviving spouse of a member of the armed forces who died from a service-connected cause while on active duty, can be exempt from taxation if the member was a permanent resident of Florida as of January 1st of the year the member died.

Eligible veterans who are residents of the state of Florida that have a VA certified service-connected disability of 10% or greater shall be entitled to a $5,000 homestead property tax exemption. If the veteran is deceased, the benefit will go to the spouse as long as they were married for at least five years. If the spouse does sell the property, it can be transferred to the new residence if they use it as their primary residence and it doesn’t exceed the amount granted in the most recent ad valorem tax roll.

Real Estate Tax Exemption for Disabled Veterans

Veterans who are paraplegic, hemiplegic, permanently and totally disabled, must use a wheelchair for mobility, or are legally blind, are exempt from real estate taxation if their gross annual household income does not exceed the adjusted maximum allowed. The veteran will need to check with their local property appraiser to determine if their gross annual household income qualifies.

G.I. Home Loan Guarantee

The VA can guarantee part of your loan toward the purchase of a home, condominium , or manufactured home.

Furthermore, veterans with a conventional home loan have the option to refinance to a VA-guaranteed loan. The Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2008 authorized veterans the opportunity to access VA home loans from a conventional loan program.

For more information, visit the VA Home Loan Benefits page, or call (888) 244-6711.

 

>> Interested in housing in or near Florida?  For a no-obligation, free consultation regarding your VA Loan eligibility, please go here.

 

Healthcare Benefits for Florida Veterans

The following are healthcare benefits for veterans who live in Florida.

Free Health Care for Combat Veterans

Combat veterans who have been released from active duty on or after January 8th, 2003, are eligible to enroll in the VA health care system for five years from the date of discharge.

This also applies to reservists and members of the National Guard who served in combat operations. To be eligible, veterans must have any discharge status except “dishonorable”.

There are 8 VA Medical Centers (VAMC) in Florida:

    1. Gainesville: Malcom Randall VAMC
    2. Jacksonville: Jacksonville Navy VAMC
    3. Lake City: Lake City VAMC
    4. Miami: Miami VA Healthcare System
    5. Orlando: Orlando VAMC
    6. Tampa: James A. Haley Veterans Hospital
    7. Tampa: James A. Haley Primary Care Annex
    8. West Palm Beach: West Palm Beach VAMC

These are just the medical centers. However, there are countless outpatient clinics and veterans centers throughout the state. Check out all of Florida’s VA Healthcare options.

Veteran Integrated Service Networks (VISN)

To deliver health care service to veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs created 21 regional VISNs nationwide. There are two that serve Florida:

      • VISN 8 – Serves 60 counties in North, Central and South Florida, 19 rural counties in South Georgia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
      • VISN 16 – Serves the remaining counties in Northwest Florida.

Follow the link to each VISN to discover more information about the services available to Florida’s veteran community.

Florida State Veterans’ Homes

There are six skilled nursing facilities and one assisted listing facility operated by the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. All of the facilities are licensed by the Agency for Healthcare Administration and are inspected by the AHCA and the US Department of Veterans Affairs on an annual basis. The homes are supervised by round the clock registered and licensed nurses.

In order to be admitted to one of the Florida State Veterans’ Homes, the veteran will need to have an honorable discharge, have Florida residency, and have a certification of need of assisted living or skilled nursing care as determined by a VA physician.

The Florida Veterans’ Homes are:

    1. Robert H. Jenkins Jr. Veterans’ Domiciliary Home in Lake City
    2. Emory L. Bennett State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Daytona Beach
    3. Baldomero Lopez State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Land O’ Lakes
    4. Alexander “Sandy” Nininger State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Pembroke Pines
    5. Clifford C. Sims State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Panama City
    6. Douglas T. Jacobson State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Port Charlotte
    7. Clyde E. Lassen State Veterans’ Nursing Home in St. Augustine
    8. Ardie R. Copas State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Port St. Lucie

Employment Benefits for Florida Veterans

The following are employment benefits for veterans who live in Florida.

Florida Service-Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise Opportunity

Any state agency, when they are considering two or more bids, proposals, or replies for the procurement of commodities or contractual services, where at least one of the bids is from a certified service-disabled Veteran business enterprise, that are equal with respect to all relevant considerations, including price, quality, and service, shall award such procurement or contract to the certified service-disabled veteran business enterprise.

Employment Preference

Eligible veterans are able to receive preference at every stage of the hiring process. Ten points will be added to the score of the first category of applicants, which are disabled veterans, and spouses of disabled or missing veterans. Five points will be added to the score of other preference-eligible applicants. Disabled veterans with a disability ratings of 30% or more will be placed on the register or employment list first, followed by all other preference-eligible applications in order of their augmented ratings.

To be considered an eligible veteran, you will need to be a veteran with a service-connected disability who is eligible for or receiving compensation, disability retirement, or a pension administered by the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. Spouses of veterans who cannot qualify for employment because of a total and permanent service-connected disability or a spouse of a veteran who is missing in action, captured, or forcibly detained by a foreign power are also eligible. A veteran of any war who have served on active duty for one day or more, during a wartime period, to exclude active duty for training and an unmarried Widow or Widower of a veteran who died of a service-connected disability will also be eligible.

Occupational License Tax Exemption

A disabled wartime veteran who is unable to perform manual labor and his or her unremarried spouse, shall be exempt from the Occupational License Tax. The veteran or their surviving spouse need to be residents of Florida.

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and the CareerSource Florida Network

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and the CareerSource Florida Network offers employment services for veterans, military members, and their families. The services they provide include interview preparation, resume writing assistance, job and training referrals, career planning, vocational guidance, job search and placement assistance, and internet access.

Employ Florida Vets

Employ Florida Vets is the state’s dedicated online portal for military veterans in order to access employment services.

Business License Fee Waivers for Veterans and Their Spouses

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation can waive the initial licencing fee, the initial application fee, and the initial unlicensed activity fee for military veterans as well as their spouses at the time of discharge. They will need to apply to the Department for a state professional license within 60 months after the veteran has been honorably discharged from the military. This law applies to over 20 professions under DBPR’s jurisdiction.

Health License Fee Waivers for Veterans and Their Spouses

The Florida Department of Health offers expedited health care practitioner licensure through the Veterans Application for Licensure Online Response System (VALOR.) They also offer expanded licensure fee waivers for military veterans and their spouses who apply for health care licensure in Florida. The department also assist the county health departments in recruiting military veterans and spouses to work in health-related fields.

Agriculture and Consumer Services Fee Waivers for Veterans and Their Spouses

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will waive first-time licensing application fees for specific veterans of the US military, their spouses or a business entity where the veteran or spouse has a majority ownership stake.

 

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