Veterans Florida Commends Florida Legislature For Passing Nation’s First Statewide SkillBridge Initiative

Veterans Florida applauds the Florida Legislature for passing legislation to create the nation’s first statewide initiative for the U.S. Department of Defense SkillBridge Program, which offers retiring and separating active-duty servicemembers workforce training from employers while transitioning out of the military.

Senator Tom Wright and Representative Tyler Sirois moved the legislation, House Bill 435, through the 2021 Regular Session. The bill received unanimous support and now moves to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis for his consideration.

“The Florida Legislature delivered a bold statement creating the nation’s first statewide SkillBridge initiative and reaffirming Florida’s status as the top destination to live and work for retiring and separating servicemembers,” said Veterans Florida Executive Director Joe Marino. “Veterans Florida applauds Senator Tom Wright and Representative Tyler Sirois for leading the charge on this important issue, and we encourage the Governor to sign this pivotal military and veteran-friendly legislation into law.”

“This legislation will allow Veterans Florida to expand their work to connect transitioning servicemembers with employers that need their skills,” said Senator Tom Wright. “I want to thank all of our partners who have helped us move this through the process, as well as my Senate colleagues for their unanimous support.”

“Passing this legislation ensures that servicemembers’ abilities and experience from the military transition to high-skilled and high-tech career opportunities on the Space Coast and all across Florida,” said Representative Tyler Sirois. “It’s been an honor to work with my friend, Senator Tom Wright, on this key piece of legislation, and we look forward to seeing it cross the finish line.”

“I know firsthand the benefit of going through the DOD SkillBridge Program and believe it’s a great way for servicemembers to effectively transition out of the military and prepare both personally and professionally for work in civilian life,” said retired U.S. Army Colonel Derrick Fishback, a former SkillBridge participant. “I fully support Florida’s legislative efforts to bring widespread awareness and implementation of this underutilized but immensely valuable workforce program for all active-duty personnel nearing separation or retirement.”

The legislation designates Veterans Florida as Florida’s principal DOD SkillBridge assistance organization to inform in-state and out-of-state transitioning servicemembers within 180 days of separation or retirement of available SkillBridge apprenticeships, internships, and fellowships across the state and assist Florida employers to develop and implement new SkillBridge training and obtain DOD approval.

Separating or retiring servicemembers interested in participating in the DOD SkillBridge Program can visit veteransflorida.org/register or contact VETS Program Director Jeremy Sinnemaki at sinnemaki@veteransflorida.org.

About Veterans Florida

Veterans Florida is a non-profit created by the State of Florida to help military veterans and their families transition to civilian life and to promote Florida’s status as the nation’s most veteran-friendly state under Florida’s Veterans Employment and Training Services (VETS) Program. Our mission can be summed up in the theme – Your Pursuit. Our Power. – because we recognize military veterans are incredibly focused and will succeed in achieving their personal and professional goals when they take advantage of our tools and resources. Visit veteransflorida.org and veteransfloridaexpo.org for more information and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for updates on veteran opportunities in Florida.