New law designates Veterans Florida as initial point of employment resources for veterans

Florida has one of the largest veteran populations in the country.

When service members leave the military, they can face different challenges in trying to re-enter the workforce and look for jobs.

"There are a number of different resources that you're given to try to set you up for success in that post-military career, you know, but some of that part of the challenge is it's almost an overflow of information," Alan Suskey, and board member for Veterans Florida Board and the Executive Vice President of Shumaker Advisors said.

A new Florida law aims to help veterans start their own businesses and gain training for jobs in a number of fast-growing fields.

House Bill 1329 was signed into law. It designates Veterans Florida as the initial point of military transition assistance for veterans and their families.

"That's job training," Suskey said. "That's entrepreneurship training. And now, this legislation allows us to continue to help spouses of those military members as they move."

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Veterans Florida offers training programs, courses and job resources to veterans and their families in Florida or who are moving to Florida.

The non-profit works with other organizations like the Florida Department of Veteran Affairs to serve as one main channel for employment services for veterans and their families.

Troy Underwood owns Tampa Steel and Supply. He took over the company several years ago, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic, and navigated the challenges that the pandemic brought to businesses around the country.

"Once you buy the business, it's different from running a business to owning the business," Underwood said.

Underwood grew up in a military family and served in the Army Reserve, himself, and says there weren’t always resources for veterans and their families.

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"When you come out, you're not sure which direction you're going to go," Underwood said. "You may have some ideas, but you have been so focused on your mission and your role and your job. That retirement or that exit comes really quickly."

Underwood says he and his wife took an entrepreneurship course through Veterans Florida, which helped give them the training and guidance to build their business.

Suskey says they also offer training programs for a number of major job fields in Florida.

"Aerospace, manufacturing, agriculture," Suskey said. "All these different areas where we're seeing an explosion and the need to fill those positions."

The new law aims to connect veterans and their families to a more seamless channel of employment resources, while trying to keep up with the demand for a larger workforce around Florida.

"The one thing that we all share in common is the military. And we're always both focused on the mission," Underwood said.

To find more information about Veterans Florida and get access to resources, click here.

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