Tallahassee, Florida -- March 15, 2011 --
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Senator Alan Hays and Representative Greg Steube unveiled legislation today to honor wounded veterans with access to “special hunt areas” in certain state parks. Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll and General Bob Milligan were also present at the press conference held at 1 p.m. at the Florida Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial.
“I would like to thank Senator Hays and Representative Steube for their leadership, and I ask their fellow members of the Legislature to please join us in this effort,” said Commissioner Putnam. “The men and women of our armed services put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms we enjoy as Americans and residents of this great state. This legislation is just one way we can show our gratitude and support for the sacrifices they have made.”
In addition to providing special outdoor recreational opportunities for eligible veterans, the legislation will also allow for private donations to fund the development and installation of special facilities to accommodate the needs of disabled veterans. Funding for these accommodations may be donated to the Division of Forestry through the Department’s Direct Support Organization, Friends of Florida State Forests, Inc.
“It is truly a privilege to sponsor this legislation that will enhance the quality of life for our valiant warriors whom have been wounded in the line of duty. These heroes gave unselfishly to defend our freedoms. For us to set aside these areas for them to pursue the great sport of hunting is only one small way the citizens of Florida may say, ‘Thank you for your valiant service!’ May God Bless all those serving in our armed forces!,” said Senator Alan Hays.
“As a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and as a disabled veteran, I am honored to carry this piece of legislation for Florida veterans. This bill is a simple way for the State of Florida and all Floridians to show their support and appreciation. As a result of this legislation, wounded veterans will have the opportunity to use these areas for special outdoor recreational opportunities, including hunting. I believe such activities are therapeutic and an important part of physical and mental recovery,” said Representative Greg Steube.
Working with staff from the Wounded Warrior Project, the Division of Forestry within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regularly hosts weekend trips for wounded veterans to hunt in designated areas of Florida’s state forests. In the last year, more than 20 wounded veterans have hunted at Lake Wales Ridge State Forest. Commissioner Putnam joined the most recent hunt on February 25.
For more information about the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com or follow Commissioner Putnam on Facebook, www.facebook.com/adamputnam, or Twitter, @adamputnam.