1.6 million veterans call Florida home, and more are being added to their ranks as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan slowly wind down.
A veteran of the US Air Force, Jimmy Fox wasted no time enrolling at FSU.
“I don’t worry about tuition. It’s paid for with the post 9/11 GI Bill,” said Fox.
And starting his own business.
“You’re not just going to get a free ride out of the VA, you need to have a way of supporting yourself,” said Fox.
Florida has the third largest number of veteran owned businesses in the county. More than 176-thousand Florida soldiers have started their own companies. They employ more than 300-thousand people.
The state is helping them in their business endeavors. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is waiving rules to help soldiers become commercial fishermen.
And starting last month, The Department of Business and Professional Regulation began waiving business licensing fees for returning soldiers. There’s even more help coming from Tallahassee.
Florida State University Launched its Veteran’s Film Festival Monday. FSU has vowed to become the most veteran friendly campus in the county.
“When you come to FSU, your service is going to be respected. Your service is going to be appreciated. The student body is going to reach out and open their arms unto you,” said Colonel Billy Francis, the FSU Veterans Center Director.
With all the new help available, the problem becomes spreading the word. In September the state launched a website, floridavets.org, compiling information about state and federal programs.
More help is on the way. The newly formed Statewide Veterans Advisory Committee will hold its first meeting Wednesday in Tallahassee. The committee will focus on drug abuse and mental health problems effecting returning soldiers.