Find Florida state and local veteran’s benefits including education, employment, healthcare, tax breaks/exemptions, recreation and much more below. As one of the states with the most veterans (1.6 million) in the United States, Florida has a wide of array of veterans benefits.
Florida Veteran Education Benefits
Florida state colleges/universities provide college credits to veterans to earn academic college credit “for college-level training and education acquired in the military”. Florida state colleges also offer priority registration to any student attending classes using the GI Bill benefit.
The State of Florida offers a tuition waiver program for veterans attending a Florida state university, Florida College System institution, or career center. This program waives out-of-state fees for qualifying veterans who are Florida residents while enrolled. There is also an out-of-state tuition waiver for those attending Florida colleges but who are not physically residing in the state, but this waiver is for Active Duty military only.
Tuition is waived for qualifying veterans doing undergraduate courses at Florida state universities, community colleges, and career and technical training facilities. Purple Heart awardees and those who have received other combat awards are eligible, including but not limited to the following:
- Medal of Honor
- Navy Cross/Air Force Cross/Distinguished Service Cross
- Distinguished Service Medal with Combat V
- Silver Star Legion of Merit with Combat V
- Distinguished Flying Cross
- Bronze Star with Combat V
Scholarships For Military Dependents and Spouses
The State of Florida also provides educational assistance to qualifying dependents and spouses of veterans through the Scholarships for Children and Spouses of Deceased or Disabled Veterans program. Certain qualifying dependents of those listed as prisoners of war or as missing in action may also have benefits through this program.
These scholarships are designed to provide financial help with tuition and fees at any eligible public or private school.
Florida High School Diploma Program For Veterans
One non-college education benefit offered by the State of Florida allows qualifying veterans to be awarded a high school diploma regardless of which state high school was attended in, as long as the military member is a current resident of Florida and was honorably discharged.
Florida Veteran Employment Benefits
Like many other states, Florida offers hiring preference to veterans, with special emphasis on those who served during wartime, those who have VA-rated service connected disabilities, and qualifying surviving spouses of deceased veterans.
Florida Occupational License Fee Waivers For Veterans
Disabled veterans with wartime service, and who are permanent Florida residents who cannot perform manual labor will be exempt from Occupational license fees up to a specified amount. Surviving spouses of deceased disabled veterans may also qualify for this exemption under certain circumstances.
Florida County and Municipal Fee Exemptions For Disabled Veterans
Veterans who are VA-rated with a 100% disability are exempt from building license and permit fees designed to make a residence “habitable and safe”. Certain restrictions may apply.
Florida Business Fee Waivers For Veterans
Florida waives the initial business licensing fee, application fee, and initial unlicensed business activity fee for qualifying veterans and spouses who submit applications within the first 60 months after an honorable discharge. There is also a fee waiver program for veterans and spouses who seek qualifying health care licensing, agriculture, and consumer service licensure.
Certification For Florida Veteran-Owned Businesses
The Florida Department of Management Services’ Office of Supplier Diversity is responsible for certification of “Florida-based veteran-, woman- and minority-owned small businesses” according to the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs. This office provides services to veteran-owned businesses including information on state contract opportunities, and technical assistance.
Florida Veteran Housing Benefits
Salute Our Soldiers Military Loan Program/Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) Program
Veterans and active duty military personnel throughout the state can receive a below market rate 30-year fixed rate first mortgage loan and up to $10,000 in down payment assistance and closing cost assistance.
Veteran’s Assisted Care Homes And Nursing Homes
Veterans who have lived in Florida for at least one year are eligible to apply for space in the Robert Jenkins, Jr. Veterans Domiciliary Home. This is a 150-bed assisted living home located in Lake City, Florida intended for honorably discharged veterans who are physically capable of feeding and dressing themselves, but who need assisted care.
The state of Florida also has six nursing homes for honorably discharged veterans who have been certified by a doctor as requiring nursing home care:
- Emory L. Bennett State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Daytona Beach.
- Baldomero Lopez State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Land O’ Lakes.
- Alexander “Sandy” Nininger Veterans’ Nursing Home in Pembroke Pines.
- Clifford C. Sims State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Panama City.
- Douglas T. Jacobson State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Port Charlotte.
- Clyde E. Lassen State Veterans’ Nursing Home in St. Augustine.
- Ardie R. Copas State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Port St. Lucie.
Care offered will vary depending on the facility, but all facilities have fixed number of beds available for Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients.
Florida Veteran Financial Benefits
Tax Breaks for Veterans
Veterans with VA service-connected disability ratings of 10% or higher are eligible for a basic Florida state property tax exemption of $5,000. This exemption is not automatic-the veteran is required to file paperwork in their county showing proof of disability and the VA rating that goes with it. This tax exemption may also apply to qualifying surviving spouses who were married to the veteran for five years prior to the service member’s death.
Florida Homestead Tax Exemptions For Veterans
Honorably discharged veterans are also entitled to a State Of Florida “homestead exemption” which offers property tax breaks depending on the nature of service and other factors. At the time of this writing, current and former military members may be eligible to receive an exemption if deployed outside the United States during the previous year “in support of a designated operation” determined by the State of Florida.
The exact amount of the exemption “corresponds to the percent of time during the previous year when the service member was deployed on a designated operation” according to the Florida Department of Revenue.
100% Florida Property Tax Exemption For Totally Disabled Veterans
Service members who have a VA-rated “total disability” considered permanent may be eligible for a 100% exemption from property taxes on homesteads. Qualifying surviving spouses are also eligible for this exemption.
Additional Florida Veteran Benefits
Florida Driver License, ID Cards, and License Plates For Veterans
The State of Florida allows special veteran designation on driver licenses and state ID cards. Discharge paperwork such as the DD Form 214 or its’ Guard/Reserve equivalent is required at application time.
100% Disabled veterans are eligible for no-fee licenses/ID cards. No-fee Florida driver licenses are available to 100% disabled veterans who are “qualified to obtain a driver license” according to the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs.
Florida Military License Plates
The State of Florida offers military members and veterans “military” designated license plates for a nominal fee. These plates may reflect the driver’s Purple Heart status or other honors. Proof of military service/honorable discharge is required at application time.
Veteran License Plates and Parking Benefits
Qualifying disabled veterans are eligible for one free “DV” designated license plates for disabled veterans. The applicant must furnish proof of “a service-connected 100-percent disability rating or that the vehicle was acquired through VA financial assistance” according to the Florida VA. Additionally, the State of Florida also provides a free license plates with a wheelchair emblem are “for those veterans permanently confined to a wheelchair and who otherwise qualify for a DV plate”.
Any driver with a “DV” plate who has mobility issues can park in any designated handicapped parking zone, and state law prohibits publicly-run airports from charging parking fees to those with applicable DV license plates.
Florida Toll Road Fee Waivers For Disabled Veteran Drivers In Specially Equipped Vehicles
State law requires toll-road fee waivers for any driver of a specially equipped motor vehicle for the handicapped if the driver’s disabilities prevent or complicate the paying of tolls with coins in the toll baskets.
Florida Recreational Benefits For Veterans
Reduced fees, discounts, and fee waivers for veterans in the State of Florida include:
- A 25% discount on annual passes to Florida State Parks.
- Full or partial discount on entrance fees at municipal parks and recreation facilities.
- A “Military Gold Sportsman’s License” is offered at a reduced fee to current and retired military members.
- No-fee Florida state hunting and fishing licenses and permits for Florida residents who are VA certified as 100% totally and permanently disabled and for those who carry a disabled veteran ID card.
- No-fee use of state land and state-run agricultural land as part of the Operation Outdoor Freedom project.
Florida Legal Benefits For Veterans
Florida has established a unique “veterans court” that addresses mental health and substance abuse issues for qualifying veterans. Approximately 24 veterans courts have been established to handle such cases. According to the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, “Successful completion of Veterans Court has helped decrease the recidivism rates of its participants through the proper diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues”.
Florida Burial Benefits For Veterans
The State of Florida itself does not extend additional benefits to veterans for burial, but the presence of a large number of VA cemeteries in Florida makes it easier for veterans and their families to manage pre-need planning for funeral arrangements. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Florida does not operate any national cemeteries for veterans, but the following is a list of VA cemeteries in the state:
- Barrancas National Cemetery
- Bay Pines National Cemetery
- Cape Canaveral National Cemetery
- Florida National Cemetery
- Jacksonville National Cemetery
- Sarasota National Cemetery
- South Florida National Cemetery
- Tallahassee National Cemetery
St. Augustine National Cemetery is included in the Florida list, but is marked as closed.
Links to Veterans Services in Florida
- Florida Department of Veterans Affairs
- Florida Department Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles
- Florida County Veterans Service Officer Association
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