OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol
OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol

Department of Veterans' Affairs

What is the purpose of the department?

The mission of the Department of Veterans' Affairs is to advocate with purpose and passion for Florida veterans and link them to superior services, benefits, and support. The Cabinet agency is responsible for providing quality benefit information, advocacy, education, and long-term health care in order to improve the well-being of Florida veterans and their families.

How is the department organized?

The department has a main administrative office in Largo, a capitol office in Tallahassee, and a division in Bay Pines.  The department provides services through two organizational units: the Division of Benefits and Assistance and the State Veterans' Homes Program.
The Division of Veterans' Benefits and Assistance assists Florida veterans with obtaining health and financial benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The State Veterans' Homes Program operates six veterans' nursing homes and one veterans' assisted living facility that provides both long-term skilled care services and assisted living services to eligible Florida veterans.
In addition, the federal Department of Veterans Affairs operates seven medical centers and 11 full-care outpatient clinics in Florida.

What services does the department provide?

The department assists veterans to obtain financial and health benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  The department assists veterans in many components such as receiving medical treatment, prescriptions, prosthetic devices, benefit checks, and school program approval. The department also employs Veterans' Claims Examiners who work with veterans to receive benefits. Additionally, the department provides long-term skilled nursing care and assisted living services.

What is the veteran population in Florida?

Florida is home to more than 1.5 million veterans, the third largest veteran population in the nation. Among those veterans are over 519,000 Vietnam War era veterans; over 188,000 Gulf War era veterans; over 177,000 Post-9/11 veterans; over 139,000 Korean War veterans; over 61,000 World War II veterans; and more than 352,000 peacetime veterans.

How are these activities funded?

Fiscal Year: 2020-21
Fund Dollars Positions
VETERANS' AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF
PROGRAM: SERVICES TO VETERANS' PROGRAM
EXECUTIVE DIRECTION AND SUPPORT SERVICES
5,282,227
29.50
VETERANS EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING SERVICES
1,719,106
.00
VETERANS' BENEFITS AND ASSISTANCE
9,587,848
115.00
VETERANS' HOMES
133,014,001
1,335.00
TOTAL
149,603,182
1,479.50

Updates

Alternative Treatment Options. The Legislature enacted Chapter 2019-148, Laws of Florida, which allows the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs to contract with a state university or Florida College System institution to provide alternative treatment options to veterans with traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder. Alternative treatment options include accelerated resolution therapy, equine therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, music therapy, and service animal training therapy. The bill also requires the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs to provide an annual report to the Legislature on the number and type of services provided to veterans from the alternative treatment program.
Re-entry Benefits. The Legislature passed CS/HB 7125 which allows the Florida Department of Corrections to contract with a public or private educational institution's veteran advocacy clinic or veteran legal clinic to assist qualified veteran inmates in apply for veterans' benefits upon release from prison.
Taxes and Fees for Veterans. Chapter 2018-80, Laws of Florida, creates an exemption from local business taxes for several individuals, including
  • honorably discharged veterans and their spouses;
  • unremarried surviving spouses of honorably discharged veterans; and
  • active duty military servicemembers' spouses who relocate to the county or municipality pursuant to a permanent change of station order.
In addition, the law eliminates the fees a veteran must pay to have the word 'veteran' displayed on an identification card or driver license and prohibits tax collectors from charging a veteran the service fee for driver license services rendered pursuant to Ch. 322, Florida Statutes.
Veterans Courts. Veterans courts, authorized by s. 394.47891, Florida Statutes, serve veterans and active duty servicemembers who are involved in the criminal justice system and have a military-related mental health illness, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse disorder, or psychological problem. Veterans courts sentence participants in a manner that appropriately addresses the severity of the issue(s) through services tailored to the individual needs of the participant. As of March 2019, Florida has 31 veterans courts in operation.
Chapter 2019-61, Laws of Florida, expands the eligibility for veterans courts. Previously, statute required a veteran to be honorably or generally discharged to participate in veterans courts. Under the bill, a veteran discharged or released under any condition can participate in veterans court. The bill also expands eligibility for veterans courts to defense contractors and military members of a foreign allied country.  Additionally, the bill makes the same eligibility expansion for pretrial release programs. Finally, the bill clarifies that a court can impose probation or community control that requires participation in a treatment program for mental illness, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse, or psychological problem on any veteran.
More information on veterans courts may be found through the Florida Courts' Veterans Courts website.

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

A complete list of related OPPAGA reports is available on our website.

Where can I get more information?

Other Reports
Annual Report Fiscal Year 2017-18, Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs, December 2018.
Attracting Student Veterans to Science and Engineering Degree Fields, Florida Senate, Interim Project Report No. 2012-133, September 2011.
Establishing a Campus Compact for Student Veterans and Institutions of Higher Learning, Florida Senate, Interim Project Report No. 2012-134, September 2011.
The Auditor General reports on department operations are available on its website.
Websites of Interest
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Board of Veterans' Appeals
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Health Benefits
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Benefits Administration
Performance Information
Performance measures and standards for the department may be found in its Long Range Program Plan.

What are the applicable statutes?

Chapters 292, 295, and 296, and s. 20.37, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Danny Burgess, Executive Director, 850-487-1533
Alene Tarter, Director, Veterans' Benefits and Assistance, 727-319-7440
Connie Tolley, Director, Veterans' Homes, 727-518-3202, ext. 5516
Website