LeRoy Collins Commentary 109

Commentary #109
8 November 2007

Veterans Day Article from
Admiral LeRoy Collins Jr.

Coming up on Veterans Day 11 NOV, I thought you might like to know...

On Veterans Day, we officially thank our Veterans for their service to the Nation. On Memorial Day in May we honor our deceased Veterans. Having cited the difference, I shall be at the same place on Veterans Day as I was for Memorial Day 2007, i.e. the National Veterans Cemetery near Bushnell FL. On Memorial Day I shared the speakers podium with Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottcamp; on Veterans Day, Sunday 11 November, I shall share the same podium with the U.S. Undersecretary of Veterans Affairs (Memorial Affairs), the Honorable Bill Tuerk.
/s/ LeRoy Collins

Support Our Veterans
By LeRoy Collins Jr.

Florida has earned a reputation as one of the most veteran-friendly states in the nation. Of our state's 18 million residents, 10 percent are military veterans with more than 780,000 over the age of 65. Only California has more veterans and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs projects Florida will overtake that state in total numbers of veterans in the next 20 years. Census data also tells us that of all veterans moving from one state to another half are moving to Florida.

Watching over and advocating for Florida's veteran population are the men and women of the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs.

The department is a state agency responsible for assisting, without charge, Florida's veterans, their families and survivors in improving their health and economic well-being through quality benefit information, advocacy and education. FDVA also provides long-term health care services through five veterans' nursing homes (Daytona Beach, Land O' Lakes, Pembroke Pines, Springfield, and Port Charlotte) and one assisted living facility in Lake City. Construction of a sixth home is planned for St. Johns County in 2008.

Through the years, the department has supported legislation to bring additional benefits to its Florida veterans including property tax and fee waivers, education benefits, the Florida World War II and Korean War Veterans' Memorials, military specialty license plates and much more.

On the policy front this year, state legislation was passed allowing continuous employment preference for veterans seeking jobs with municipal, county and state government, automatic renewal of a homestead tax discount passed by Florida voters in November 2006 (aimed at eligible Florida veterans with service-connected disabilities from combat), recognition of more than 100,000 returning Florida servicemembers as 'wartime' veterans in the Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom campaigns, and additional funding of our veterans' nursing home trust fund through redistribution of fees generated from the Marine Corps License Plate.

A consolidated list of benefits available to veterans and their families can be found on the department's Web site at www.FloridaVets.org.

On this Veterans Day, we cannot rest on our laurels. The demographics of Florida's veteran population are shifting due to the passing of our older World War II-era population and the addition of younger veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. In addition to traditional health, long-term care and burial services, younger veterans and their families will be seeking employment and educational opportunities. FDVA will continue to partner with other agencies to support these new initiatives.

As George Washington once said, "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their Nation."

Retired Navy Reserve Rear Adm. LeRoy Collins Jr. is Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs. His father, a World War II Navy veteran, was governor of Florida from 1955 to 1961.

/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr.


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