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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

State trying to contact Florida veterans through drivers' licenses



Thousands of Florida military veterans, many of whom have failed to claim benefits to which they are entitled, are being contacted by the state Department of Veterans Affairs  under a new state program that uses drivers’ licenses to reach them.

The program, called “Florida Vets Connect,’’ was the brainchild of Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink’s office and relies on existing resources to alert veterans to the programs available to them from the state and federal governments. Veterans who identify their veteran status when renewing their drivers’ licenses or applying for an ID card will be contacted by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Since June, the department has contacted nearly 30,000 of the 1.6 million veterans living in Florida through the initiative, using e-mail exclusively.

Julie Jones, secretary of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, said that veterans can renew their licenses at and check a box that indicates they are a veteran to get their data into the system.

The state’s veterans department has accurate contact information for only 700,000 of the state’s 1.6 million veterans, and many are believed not to claim their pension benefits, interim Secretary Bob Milligan said.  The veterans department website is here.

-- Mary Ellen Klas, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

[Last modified: Thursday, November 11, 2010 8:42am]


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