Florida State Veteran's Benefits

Florida Chalkboard Map

The state of Florida provides several veteran benefits. This section offers a brief description of each of the following benefits.

Florida Veteran Housing Benefits

Florida State Veterans' Homes Program
The Robert Jenkins, Jr. Assisted Living/Domiciliary Home is a 149-bed Assisted Living Facility in Lake City that provides a special combination of housing, personalized supportive services, and incidental medical care to eligible veterans. Domiciliary care is provided to veterans discharged under honorable conditions. Veterans admitted must be residents of Florida for one year prior to admission. The cost of care is determined based on income. .

Veterans' Nursing Homes of Florida
The state of Florida operates 6 Veterans' nursing homes and 1 assisted living facility throughout the state. Basic admission requirements for all veterans' nursing homes in Florida include an honorable discharge, Florida residency for one year prior to admission, and certification of need of nursing home care by a VA physician.

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Florida Veteran Financial Benefits

Basic Property Tax Exemptions
Eligible resident Veterans with VA certified service-connected disability of 10% or greater shall be entitled to a $5,000 property tax exemption. The Veteran must establish the exemption with the county tax official by providing documentation of their disability. The unremarried surviving spouse, who on the disabled ex-service member's death had been married to the ex-service member for at least 5 years is also entitled to this exemption.

Homestead Exemption
Any real estate owned and used as a homestead by a veteran who was honorably discharged and has been certified as having a service-connected, permanent and total disability, is exempt from taxation if the veteran is a permanent resident of Florida and has legal title to the property on January 1 of the tax year for which exemption is being claimed.

Any real estate owned and used as a homestead by the surviving spouse of a member of the Armed Forces who died from service-connected causes while on active duty is exempt from taxation if the member was a permanent resident of this state on January 1 of the year in which the member died.

If, upon the death of the veteran, the spouse holds the legal or beneficial title to the homestead and permanently resides there, the exemption from taxation carries over to the benefit of the veteran’s spouse until such time as he or she remarries, sells, or otherwise disposes of the property. If the spouse sells the property, an exemption not to exceed the amount granted from the most recent ad valorem tax roll may be transferred to the new residence as long as it is used the primary residence and the spouse does not remarry.

Any real estate used and owned as a homestead by any quadriplegic is exempt from taxation. Veterans who are paraplegic, hemiplegic, or permanently and totally disabled who must use a wheelchair for mobility, or are legally blind, may be exempt from real estate taxation. Check with your local property appraiser to determine if gross annual household income qualifies. The veteran must be a resident of Florida.

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Florida Veteran Employment Benefits

Veterans' Preference in Employment and Retention
The state and its political subdivisions shall give preference in employment and retention in government positions to veterans who served during a wartime period and separated under honorable conditions, or who are disabled veterans who have compensable service-connected disabilities as well as to a spouse or un-remarried veteran's widow or widower under certain circumstances.

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Florida Veteran Education Benefits

Tuition Waiver
Florida waives undergraduate-level tuition at state universities and community colleges for Florida recipients of the Purple Heart and other combat-related decorations superior in precedence to the Purple Heart. 

Tuition Deferment
Available to any veteran or other eligible student covered under Title 38, U.S.C. Allows one tuition deferment each academic year and an additional deferment when a delay in benefits occurs.

Reduced Tuition for National Guard
Active Florida Guard members in good standing as of June 30, 1997 are exempt from payment of one-half of tuition and fees. Individuals who enlist in the Guard after June 30, 1997 are eligible for full exemption of tuition and fees.  Contact your National Guard Unit for details.

Education for Children Of Deceased Or Disabled Florida Veterans
Florida also provides four-year college educational opportunities for dependent children and spouses of veterans who died from a service connected disability or who are 100% percent service-connected totally and permanently disabled veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. (FS 295. 01) For more information, call toll free (888) 827-2004. Dependent children of service members Missing In Action or Prisoners Of War may also be eligible for tuition benefits.

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Florida Veteran Recreation Benefits

State Park Admission
25% discount for annual pass to all state parks for all honorably discharged veterans. Veterans with service-connected disabilities and their spouses or surviving spouses are entitled to a free lifetime pass.

County and Municipal Parks
Some county and municipal parks offer free or reduced entrance fees to current military members, honorably discharged or disable veterans and their spouses. Contact your local county or municipality for details.

Hunting and Fishing License
Active-duty and retired military Florida residents can get a Military Gold Sportsman's License for $20. The license covers hunting, freshwater and saltwater fishing and a variety of associated permits at a greatly reduced cost. The Military Gold Sportsman's License is available at tax collectors' offices only. Applicants must present a current military ID card plus a Florida driver's license or orders showing they are stationed in Florida as proof of eligibility. 100% permanently and totally disabled service-connected veterans are entitled to a free five year hunting and fishing license.

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Other Florida State Veteran Benefits

Florida Drivers License
100% permanently and totally disabled Veterans are generally exempt from all driver's license fees

Disabled Veteran Motor Vehicle License Plate
One free motor vehicle license number plate shall be issued by the department for use on any motor vehicle owned or leased by any disabled veteran who has been a continuous resident of Florida for the last five years or has established a domicile upon application accompanied by proof that:

  1. the vehicle was acquired through financial assistance from the VA, or
  2. the veteran has been determined by the VA to have a service-connected disability of 100% rating for compensation, or
  3. the veteran has been determined to have a service- connected disability of 100% and is in receipt of disability retirement pay from any branch of the uniformed Armed Forces. A plate fee is charged.

Permits/Fees (parking, tolls, building improvements)
No totally and permanently disabled veteran who is a resident of Florida shall be required to pay license or permit fees to any county or municipality in order to make certain improvements to assist with his or her disability on any mobile home owned by the veteran and used as his/her residence. Improvements are limited to ramps, widening of doors, and similar improvements for the purpose of making the mobile home habitable for veterans confined to wheelchairs.

Homeless Veterans Program
About one-third of the adult homeless population have served their country in the Armed Services. On any given day, as many as 250,000 veterans (male and female) are living on the streets or in shelters, and perhaps twice as many experience homelessness at some point during the course of a year. Many other veterans are considered near homeless or at risk because of their poverty, lack of support from family and friends, and dismal living conditions in cheap hotels or in overcrowded or substandard housing.

Right now, the number of homeless male and female Vietnam era veterans is greater than the number of service persons who died during that war -- and a small number of Desert Storm veterans are also appearing in the homeless population. At this time, scientific studies indicate that there is no known, direct connection between military service, service in Vietnam, or exposure to combat and any increased risk of becoming homeless. Family background, access to support from family and friends, and various personal characteristics (rather than military service) seem to be the stronger indicators of risk of homelessness.

Almost all homeless veterans are male (about three percent are women), the vast majority are single, and most come from poor, disadvantaged backgrounds. Homeless veterans tend to be older and more educated than homeless non-veterans. But similar to the general population of homeless adult males, about 45% of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness and (with considerable overlap) slightly more than 70% suffer from alcohol or other drug abuse problems. Roughly 56% are African American or Hispanic.

Benefits Counseling
The FDVA has state Veterans' Claims Counselors co-located with the VA in the Bay Pines Regional Office, and in each VA Medical Center and VA Outpatient Clinic in Florida. Assistance with claims is free (membership is not required) and covers all state and federal veterans' programs.

Visit the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs website for more information on any of these programs.

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Related Topics

Veteran Benefits