The guard is a civilian volunteer force initially formed in 1941 to provide similar services as the National Guard, which was deployed during World War II. It was only operational for six years. For years, groups like the Florida State Defense Force Reactivation Group have advocated for it to be reinstated.
If the governor’s proposal is approved by the legislature, more than $100 million would support Florida’s National Guard. Roughly $3.5 million of this would establish the Florida State Guard to train 200 civilians “in the best emergency response techniques.”
“Florida is one of the most veteran friendly states and I think there are very few places that you would rather be on duty than in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said in a statement. “As a veteran, I really appreciate what everyone who wears the uniform does in our state and am excited about these proposals – they will go a long way and have a meaningful impact. In Florida, we are going to continue our momentum of supporting our military, supporting our veterans and being good stewards of our military installations.”
While the Florida National Guard is often deployed to overseas missions, it also plays a vital role at home. The State Guard would support its home front efforts especially during hurricanes, natural disasters and other state emergencies.
Once established, it would be the 23rd state guard in the U.S. recognized by the federal government.
The governor said in a news conference that he wants to ensure that Florida has “the flexibility and the ability needed to respond to events in our state in the most effective way possible, and some of that will require us to be able to have access and be able to use support in ways that are not encumbered by the federal government or don’t require federal government.”
Major General James Eifert, Adjutant General of Florida, said the proposed funding would help the Guard “maintain our readiness, enabling us to continue to ensure the safety and security of our citizens.”
Also included in the proposed budget is $87.5 million to expand an existing National Guard readiness center in Miramar and establish three new armories in Homestead, Gainesville and Malabar. Roughly $8.9 million would fund existing armory maintenance, $2.2 million would fund a new headquarters for the National Guard Counter Drug Program, and $3.6 million would fund improvements to military base infrastructure.
An additional $5.1 million would help support guardsmen and women seeking higher-education degrees, and $12.2 million would fund scholarships for children and spouses of deceased or disabled veterans.