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'Florida Vets Connect' Connects Nearly 30,000 Florida Veterans with Benefits

11/10/2010

CONTACT: Kevin Cate, (850) 413-2842
 
TALLAHASSEE – Florida CFO Alex Sink today announced that the ‘Florida Vets Connect’ initiative, 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, has already contacted nearly 30,000 Florida veterans.  
 
“The success of this initiative is a testament to the commitment of our state to honor our veterans with the benefits that they’ve earned,” said CFO Sink. “Every day of the year, but especially on the eve of Veterans Day, it’s important to recognize the sacrifice of our veterans and their families.”
 
This joint initiative with the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA) and the Florida Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) allows veterans to voluntarily identify their veteran status when applying for or renewing a license or ID card.  Their contact information is then 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’ utilizes driver license offices as an intake point to gather information on veterans not currently in the state system. The DHSMV collects, stores, and makes this information available to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The program began during the regular DHSMV system update in July.
 
“I commend CFO Sink and her team for the idea and for facilitating implementation of Florida Vets Connect,” said DHSMV Executive Director Julie L. Jones. “The initiative uses the Department’s existing resources to help more veterans gain access to benefits they have earned through their military service, and DHSMV is proud to partner with FDVA.”
 
"We also acknowledge the superb efforts of the late LeRoy Collins Jr. in implementing this worthwhile initiative," said FDVA Interim Executive Director Bob Milligan. 
 
More than 1.6 million veterans live in Florida, but as of July, the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs only had accurate contact information for approximately 700,000. Nationwide, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Magazine reported more than $22 billion in veterans' pension funds go unclaimed annually. 
 
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