Veterans Day is an opportunity to honor Floridians who put their country before themselves, often at enormous personal cost to their families and their own physical and mental health.
Veterans transitioning to life as a civilian deserve to find stable jobs that pay enough to live on.
And most do. The good news is that veterans in Florida have a slightly lower unemployment rate than nonveterans.
Still, veterans, especially some women and those who are young or struggle with service-related health conditions, encounter barriers to employment. Because people of color in general in Florida have an unemployment rate of up to twice that of others in Florida, Black veterans may also be more susceptible to higher unemployment. As a result, over 7,000 veterans in Florida live below the federal poverty level. Approximately 2,300 are homeless.
"One Veteran experiencing hunger or food insecurity is one Veteran too many."
-Dr. Thomas O’Toole, Senior Medical Advisor, Veterans Health Administration
No Floridian who has served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces should ever go hungry. For these veterans, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can mean the difference between having enough to eat or an empty stomach. SNAP, which is administered by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) on the state level, provides food assistance to households with low income, including veterans. Roughly 8 percent of veterans in the state participate in the program. In Florida, 116,000 veterans rely on SNAP to put food on the table — more than in any other state.
Florida’s SNAP program has a proven track record of helping households get back on their feet when they are newly separated from the military or after a crisis, such as losing a job or suffering a medical setback.
It is important to get the word out that SNAP may help the transition to civilian life, especially as COVID-19 blunts job opportunities state-wide. As Dr. Thomas O’ Toole, Senior Medical Advisor at the Veterans Health Administration, told Congress earlier this year, “One Veteran experiencing hunger or food insecurity is one Veteran too many.”
Hunger is a battle that veterans should not have to fight.