Veteran Yoga Classes. Creative Connection and Vitas Healthcare will provide yoga classes as part of a six-week program. The program gives veterans the opportunity to heal their nervous system, reduce stress and anxiety through breathing and stretching exercises. The course uses movement, meditation, breathing, guided rest, and gratitude. For more information, call Mary Ellen Saba at 699-0571 or email her at email@example.com.
3. Fitness programs: The Southwest Florida Warrior Health and Fitness Program is a free, ongoing, six-month program for up to 60 post-9/11 Southwest Florida veterans annually. Warrior Health and Fitness is designed to help post-9/11 men and women improve their physical health and well-being through supervised physical exercise, education about healthy eating, living, sleep hygiene, stress management and the health benefits of physical activity. Sessions are currently held at FGCU and Greater Naples YMCA. The Greater Naples YMCA also offers annual complimentary membership for all graduates of Warrior Health and Fitness Program and their families. The Collier County Public Services Department, through the Parks and Recreation Division and the Operations and Veteran Services Division, will provide sponsorships for participants by offering them and their families access to the county’s fitness centers at no charge for up to one year. For more information call 239-597-3148.
Free Golf Lessons. Naples’ Kensington Golf & Country Club offers free lessons on most Thursdays from 4:00p.m. – 5:00 p.m. while there also is a tournament for veterans in March each year. Contact Monique Hashimoto with Home Base at 887-5164 for more information.
Free Park Pass. Veterans with service-connected disabilities will receive a free lifetime family annual entrance pass. The free annual pass only can be obtained at a staffed ranger station. For more, call 850-245-2157.
Free Hunting & Fishing License. Licenses and permits shall be issued without fees for five years to any veteran who is a Florida resident, certified or determined to be 100 percent totally and permanently disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or the U.S. Armed Forces. Veterans also are eligible if they have been issued a valid disabled veteran ID card by the Florida Department of the VA.
Fishing Excursions. The Freedom Waters Foundation program, which began in 2012, provides boat outings and marine activities for veterans and their family members. Offering veterans the opportunity to relax, leave their concerns on the dock as they cruise away to enjoy camaraderie with other veterans in a safe, enriching environment. Call 239-263-2377 for more information.
Honored at Hockey Game: At Florida Everblades home games, selected veterans are honored during the contest and given seats in a special suite. Each November the team will have its annual Military & Veterans Night, which has been presented by the National Coalition for Patriots for the past seven years.
Waiver for Recipients of Purple Heart or Superior Combat Decorations
Florida law provides a fee waiver to recipients of the Purple Heart or other combat decoration superior in precedence if the recipient is enrolling in the Florida college or state university system, and provided he or she meets all of the following criteria:
- Admitted as a full-time, part-time, or summer-school student in an undergraduate program of study leading to a degree or certificate;
- Is currently, and was at the time of the military action that resulted in the awarding of the Purple Heart or other superior combat decoration, a resident of Florida; and
- Submits to the community college or university the DD-214 form, issued at the time of separation from service, as documentation that he or she has received a Purple Heart or other combat decoration superior in precedence.
This waiver is applicable for 110 percent of the number of required credit hours of the degree or certificate program for which the student is enrolled.
The Florida Department of Veterans Affairs has indicated that the combat decorations that would qualify students for the provisions of this waiver include:
- Purple Heart
- Bronze Star (must be “V” designation or device)
- Distinguished Flying Cross
- Legion of Merit (must be “V” designation or device)
- Silver Star
- Air Force Cross
- Navy Cross
- Distinguished Service Cross
- Medal of Honor
The burden of proof is on the student to provide one of the following documents evidencing residency in Florida at the time of the military action that resulted in the awarding of the combat decoration:
- DD Form 214 form, military separation document
- DD Form 2058 form, military state of legal residence certificate
- Leave and Earning Statement (LES) or the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS)
- Form 702, which specifies place of residence
- Letter or affidavit from the military administrative office verifying residence at the time of combat
- One or more state or federal documents evidencing legal ties to Florida (e.g., homestead exemption, driver’s license, vehicle registration).
The student must meet the requirements of residency for tuition purposes specified in section (s.) 1009.21, F.S., and Rule 6A-10.044, Florida Administrative Code.
Florida has started the first program of its kind nationwide aimed at helping veterans gain resource information launched at Cape Coral Hospital.
Lee Health and the American Red Cross have teamed up to provide support and critical information to veterans at civilian hospitals.
Trained volunteers make visits to hospitalized veterans at Lee Health facilities to provide them with information on the programs and resources available to them and to provide comfort to them.
New Bills for Florida Veterans
HB 171 – Postsecondary Education for Certain Military Personnel: The act requires the Board of Governors and State Board of Education to adopt a uniform set of rules to award academic credit for college degrees and technical training certification based on service members’ and veterans’ prior military training and experience. The newly enacted legislation helps veterans and members on active duty to achieve their degrees quicker and without having to take unnecessary course requirements.
HB 205 – Unlawful Use of Uniforms, Medals or Insignia – Effective October 1, 2020, the act adds a provision to an existing law on stolen valor that misusing a military uniform or decorations for the purposes of obtaining employment or seeking election to a paid public office is now a violation of law.
HB 877 – Ad Valorem Tax Discount for Spouses of Certain Deceased Veterans Who Had Permanent, Combat-Related Disabilities. Proposes amending the State Constitution to authorize the surviving spouse of a deceased combat-related disabled veteran to carry over certain discounts on ad valorem taxes on homestead property until the surviving spouse remarries or sells or otherwise disposes of the property.
2020 Florida Veterans’ Benefits Guide Available
The 2020 edition of the Florida Veterans’ Benefits Guide is now available in print, courtesy of the Florida Veterans Foundation. The 32-page full color guide, with new legislative and COVID-19 updates, is also available. To request an individual copy of the Florida Veterans’ Benefits Guide us form below.