The two bills signed today drew unanimous support in both the House and the Senate during this year's legislative session, proving that Florida lawmakers can set aside differences to put veterans first in the state.
HB 427, sponsored by Rep. Tommy Gregory and Sen. Joe Gruters, allows the flying of a new flag, the Honor and Remember Flag, to serve as the state’s emblem of the service and sacrifice of the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces who have given their lives in the line of duty. It allows the flag to be flown on Veterans Day, Gold Star Mother’s Day and a day on which a member of the United States Armed Forces who is a resident of Florida loses his or her life.
“It was my honor, as a retired Air Force officer and member of the Legislature, to ask the State of Florida to display this flag to honor the men and women who gave their lives defending our country and recognize the sacrifices of Gold Star families,” said Rep. Gregory.
“It was an honor to be a part of this piece of legislation that recognizes and remembers our fellow Floridians, Gold Star Families, and Fallen Heroes who gave their lives so we can live ours,” said Gruters.
HB 501, sponsored by Rep. Mel Ponder and Sen. Tom Wright, creates a $200,000 pilot program focused on treating post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries in veterans using alternative therapies. It also expands available therapies for eligible veterans to include accelerated resolution therapy, equine therapy, music therapy, service animal training therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy at registered facilities.
“I would like to thank Governor DeSantis for signing this good piece of legislation today,” said Rep. Mel Ponder. “Too many veterans are returning home with wounds from conflict, after laying their lives on the line for our freedom, to insufficient care. We need to do better to honor and thank the sacrifices these heroes have made for us and this legislation is a step in the right direction.”
“I’m so proud Governor DeSantis signed the alternative treatments bill today,” said Sen. Tom Wright. “This bill will allow us to provide the treatments our veterans need to cure PTSD/TBI. These men and women have served us proudly and with honor and now it’s our time to serve them.”
DeSantis, who served in the Navy, has been a strong advocate for alternative-treatment concepts, such as training dogs to work with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. One of his primary goals since assuming office was to take care of veterans. With today's signing, he sets an important precedent that promises veterans will come first in the state.
Aside from the legislators who sponsored the bill, DeSantis was also joined at the bill signing by FDVA Executive Director Danny Burgess, Bryan Anderson of non-profit Veterans Alternative, Gold Star father Kris Hager, Sen. Kelli Stargel, Representatives Jamie Grant, Jennifer Webb and Fentrice Driskell, and Representative-elect Randy Maggard.
“I’m proud of Governor DeSantis, our Cabinet and legislature for supporting FDVA and the 1.5 million veterans of our state,” said Burgess “Together, we will work to ensure Florida continues to lead the charge as the most veteran-friendly state in the nation.”