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Florida Voices: Honor, Hire, Care for U.S. Military Veterans

November 11, 2012 - 6:00pm

Gov. Rick Scott urges employers to hire U.S. military veterans as he and other elected officials mark Veterans Day, which celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, used the federal holiday to mark efforts to address "injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury" in veterans.

Florida voices on Veterans Day:

Gov. Rick Scott

Last week, I had the opportunity to tour L-3 Crestview Aerospace in the Panhandle. Crestview Aerospace has invested in Florida and expanded job opportunities for our veterans. In their most recent expansion, they hired more than 60 veterans, providing their business with a quality work force and giving men and women who served our nation a second career. Businesses like Crestview Aerospace have contributed to the 8 percent decrease in Florida's veteran unemployment rate since September 2011.

Also contributing to this improved unemployment rate is the assistance that the Florida Workforce Board has given veterans who were in need of employment. So far this year they have helped more than 23,980 veterans find a job, and that number is rising.

In an effort to increase Florida's position as the most veteran-friendly state in the nation, I have designated this month as "Hire a Veteran Month," and I encourage all employers to hire a veteran whenever they can.

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll

On this Veterans Day, as Navy veterans ourselves, Governor Scott and I want to thank all the brave men and women currently serving in our armed services, especially those serving in war zones in the Middle East, Africa and in Afghanistan.

Thank you to those on the high seas and those standing-by on a moments notice at bases and outposts here in Florida and across the globe. We also take the time to thank those veterans of past wars and the heroes who were brave enough to fight for our country.

We owe a debt of gratitude to all of our veterans. We will always remember the courageous sacrifices that you made so that we may always be free.

Florida House Speaker-designate Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel

Thanks to all veterans who wore our nation's uniform and kept our nation safe! America wouldn't be America without you.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Miami

"As our nation pauses to recognize Veterans Day, my wife Jeanette and I stand with all Americans in honoring those who have served in our armed forces. To the more than 20 million veterans living in the United States today, including the 1.6 million in Florida alone, we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude. It is because of the strength and valor of these men and women that the American people enjoy rights that have been so rare throughout the history of mankind, including the freedom to live our lives under the light of liberty, in a peaceful homeland, unbound by fear of oppression.

"Throughout our history, Americas veterans have met and defeated countless forces that have wished us ill, allowing our freedom to grow, prosper and spread as a model for the world. But as we reflect on the legacy of our veterans, we are also reminded of the families that have sacrificed greatly to ensure that their achievements were possible. The strength and support of our military families is a vital part of our national defense, and we proudly honor these families today.

"Veterans Day also allows us an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices of the armed services members currently serving at home and abroad. These men and women face enemies that are filled with disdain for our nation's guiding principles, yet each night we are able to put our children to bed with the knowledge that we are secure and safe, guarded by Americans of the highest honor and the greatest courage. We thank these men and women for their service, and we pray for the success of their mission and safe return home.

"Americans in uniform have always stood as a paragon of selflessness, courage and devotion, and as such are an extraordinary example to their countrymen. So on this Veterans Day, I encourage all Americans to join together in wishing our veterans, active-service members and their friends and family a peaceful, meaningful Veterans Day. May God bless all of our veterans, and may God bless America."

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Orlando

"Today, Americans come together all across Florida and the nation to honor the millions of men and women who have served in our military.

"Veterans Day is an opportunity to pause and say thank you to these heroes and to those still serving overseas. And, its also a chance to once again renew our commitment to care for veterans at home with the same respect and loyalty they showed our country during their service.

"With that in mind, I want to share some resources aimed at helping veterans, service members and their families:

Joining Forces is a national program that connects veterans, service members and military spouses with resources to find jobs at home.

The VA voluntary service office has information for anyone who wants to volunteer locally to help veterans.

Check out the USO website and find out how to send care packages and letters to Americans serving overseas.

"And last but not least, veterans with benefits issues or other concerns should feel free to contact my office anytime.

"To those who have served, thank you. And thanks to the many Americans coming together today to recognize some of our nations heroes. Please join me in keeping those still serving around the world in your thoughts and prayers."

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam

Because of the commitment and sacrifice of our nation's veterans, we are free to make our own choices. God bless veterans.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi

"Every day, brave men and women risk their lives for the sake of our country. Because of their selfless courage, we are able to live freely. On Monday, we will celebrate Veterans Day by honoring those who have served in the United States armed forces.

"We must never forget the importance of protecting this great nation. Our veterans deserve our respect and recognition for their service. I offer my sincere gratitude to each man and woman who has served our country. It is because of you that we can call America the land of the free and the home of the brave."

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater

The Florida Chamber of Commerce respectfully honors the 1.6 million Floridians that have served our country. Our veterans have made tremendous sacrifices protecting our country and our freedoms, and we owe them a great debt of gratitude and respect.

The Florida Chamber and our partners in the business community earlier this year joined Governor Rick Scott, incoming Senate President Don Gaetz and incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford in launching Hiring Floridas Heroes -- a year-long effort aimed at connecting returning members of the National Guard and other veterans with employment opportunities.

Were seeing positive success. The unemployment rate for members of Floridas National Guard continues to drop -- falling to 6 percent in September 2012, from a 15 percent high in September 2011. Business members of the Florida Chamber and employers throughout Florida have helped put nearly 24,000 veterans into jobs since January.

Sometimes heroes need advocates, too. That is why the Florida Chamber proudly encourages private-sector businesses to honor the tremendous sacrifices of our military by hiring our talented veterans and their military spouses.

Floridas strong third-place national ranking for greatest number of veteran-owned businesses has helped generate $61 billion in economic activities and more than 300,000 jobs.

Today and every day, but especially on Veterans Day, please thank a veteran.

U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Orlando

Honoring America's heroes today for answering the call to duty and for making our armed forces the most respected in the world.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami

Thinking of those who served our country so bravely, and grateful for those who still do.

U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Chumuckla

"The history of Veterans Day dates back to the armistice, signed on Nov. 11, 1918, which ended hostilities in World War I -- the War to End All Wars. A year later, President Woodrow Wilson designated Nov. 11 as Armistice Day, recognizing the heroism, service, and sacrifice of those who fought for freedom in Europe. It wasnt until 1938 that Armistice Day became an official federal holiday. It would be 16 more years before the day would come to be known as Veterans Day. A second global war, followed by a bloody war fought on the Korean peninsula, prompted veterans' services organizations to lobby Congress to change the official name to place more emphasis on the men and women who sacrificed so much.

"To this day, we recognize Nov. 11 as a day to honor those among us who serve or have served our nation in uniform. No amount of thanks, no day of remembrance, and no words can adequately repay the debt we owe our veterans for their contributions to the way of life we enjoy today. But the inadequacy of these measures doesnt absolve us of our responsibility to make every effort to thank them for their sacrifices.

"In February 2011, we bade farewell to Frank W. Buckles, the last U.S. veteran of the First World War. He was the last link to the generation who first inspired us to pay homage to our heroes in uniform. Though he is no longer with us, the veterans who follow in his footsteps carry the same banner of honor, service, and sacrifice. They represent the best of American virtue.

"Generation after generation of Americans have lived and prospered under the blanket of security provided by those who donned a uniform and defended our Constitution and the principles our nation was founded upon. Todays generation is no different. The veterans of all of our nations past skirmishes, battles, and wars enabled the ascent of American economic, diplomatic, moral, and military leadership in the world. That leadership shapes the global landscape and provides opportunities for freedom to flourish here at home and abroad.

"Veterans Day focuses the attention of a nation on the heroes who safeguard our way of life. It is the one day out of 365 on which we are called to shift our attention from our daily routines to honor and remember the precious few who answered the nations call to arms. This Veterans Day, I encourage you to take stock of your life and to find a way to make a difference in the lives of the veterans around you."

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor

"At a time when our country faces great uncertainty, one thing has remained constant --the men and women who stand on the front line to defend the freedoms and values upon which this great country was built.

"The service of our nations veterans spans every day of every year of every decade of our countrys existence. Over the past two centuries, our world has changed and the duties of the armed forces have changed with it. However, the bravery, dignity and honor of our men and women in uniform remain firm.

"Veterans Day is an opportunity for us to not only thank this countrys heroes of war, but also remember the selfless sacrifices made by our service members and their families to maintain peace at home and abroad. We are forever in their debt; and therefore must continue to uphold our end of the bargain by keeping them a top priority when they return home.

"Today, we have a new generation of veterans, who face different challenges and obstacles than their counterparts of years past. Nearly a quarter million brave men and women living in the Tampa Bay area have served in our armed forces, and it is our responsibility to ensure they have increased access to the educational and health benefits they earned in service to our country.

"Injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain Injury are oftentimes the silent wounds of war, going unnoticed because of the stigma associated. However, they are not character flaws, and we need to change the culture that discourages many members of our armed forces from seeking the medical attention they need, particularly when suffering from a mild traumatic brain injury.

"This is why, as vice chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, I have worked diligently to draw attention to issues, like TBI, bringing Congress, the U.S. Army and the NFL together to discuss ways we can partner to make our research dollars extend farther. It is also why I have made it my personal mission to see proposals like Heroes Ranch, a local, family-friendly, specially designed post-acute, long-term care facility, come to fruition.

"In this difficult economy, we must work to enhance benefits for our veterans in the most cost-effective way possible. Making great strides in that effort, I sponsored HR 4057, which the House passed in September, to increase the effectiveness of current veterans educational programs. This legislation arms this generation of post-9/11 veterans with the necessary information that will allow them to gain skills to re-enter the work force and make a smooth transition from the battlefield to civilian life.

"Our veterans define the meaning of patriotism and heroism, and they embody the American spirit that has forged a better and brighter future for our nations children and grandchildren.

"This Veterans Day, may we celebrate and remember all those who have served, are serving or will serve this country."

Reach Jim Turner at or at (772) 215-9889.

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