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Gov. Scott Visit's K9s For Warriors In Ponte Vedra To Highlight Budget's Military Focus

Governor Rick Scott visited of K9s For Warriors in Ponte Vedra Beach Thursday to highlight $180 million in funding that has been earmarked in Florida’s recently passed budget to help military members and their families.

“It’s very important that we always take care of our veterans,” Scott said.

Part of his budget has $250,000 going to the expansion of the K9s For Warriors. The nonprofit has plans for an expansion to help more veterans be connected with service dogs.

Rory Diamond, CEO for K9s For Warriors, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to continue the growth of the program.

“[We’re] so happy to be in the budget. We will be able to help more warriors, help their family and that ripple would be across the state of Florida,” Diamond said.

The nonprofit organization was created by Shari Duval as a way to help her son who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after he served in Iraq.

“You find individuals like Shari that are willing to put their, they put up their money to solve a problem. They raise money to solve a problem,” Scott said. “When the state can be a participant the state ought to be a participant.”

State Representative Cyndi Stevenson described how she enjoyed seeing the pairing up warriors with dogs as a way to enhance each other’s lives.

“The tremendous outpouring and the success of this program is one of the most perfect intersections of public and private partnership that the community coming together around a winning idea,” Stevenson said.

Scott also set aside time to present the Governor's Veterans Service Awards. He also to touched on an amendment that has been proposed to go on the ballot to give free tuition to  families of fallen service members and law enforcement.

The governor also highlighted more than $20 million put aside to focus on Florida’s military presence, families and veterans.

Among the funding is $2.5 million for veterans’ employment and $1 million for Building Homes For Heroes, which is a organization that builds and modifies homes for veterans who were severely injured while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Scott signed Florida’s nearly $89 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 and issued $64 million in vetoes last week.  

Joslyn Simmons can be reached at, 904-358-6316