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CFO Sink Announces ‘Florida Vets Connect’ to Recognize Brave Service of Florida Veterans

3/3/2010

CONTACT: Kevin Cate, (850) 413-2842
 
TALLAHASSEE – Florida CFO Alex Sink today announced ‘Florida Vets Connect,’ a proposal designed to better recognize Florida’s veterans and provide them with information about the benefits they may be entitled to through their brave service to our country. 
 
“Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country, and we should do everything we can to honor their service,” said CFO Sink. “The new Florida Vets Connect initiative will make it easier for Florida’s veterans to receive the benefits they may be entitled to through their brave service.”
 
This joint initiative with the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA) and the Florida Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) will allow veterans to voluntarily identify their veteran status when applying for or renewing a license or ID card.  Their contact information will then be used by Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs to ensure Florida’s veterans are provided information about the benefits to which they may be entitled. 
 
At no cost to taxpayers, ‘Florida Vets Connect’ will utilize driver license offices as an intake point to gather information on veterans not currently in the state system. The DHSMV will collect, store, and make this information available to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The program will begin during the regular DHSMV system update in July.
 
“This veterans’ identification initiative adds to Florida’s heritage in providing services and opportunities to those who have honorably answered the call to serve our country,” said FDVA Executive Director LeRoy Collins Jr.  “As a result, the Sunshine State strengthens its standing as one of the most Veteran-friendly states in the Nation.”
 
“The new initiative will use existing resources to help veterans gain access to benefits they have earned through their service to our nation,” said Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director Julie L. Jones. “Because of the broad contact we have with so many Floridians, we are perfectly situated to assist in this effort – and we are proud to do so.” 
 
According to the 2009 VA Annual Benefits Report, Florida’s veteran population totals 1,715,114, but the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs only has accurate contact information for approximately 700,000 of them.   Nationwide, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Magazine reported more than $22 billion in veterans' pension funds go unclaimed annually. 
 
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