Department of Florida

Category Archives: News

A Message From Our Disaster Preparedness Chair

Bill Hoppner, Disaster PreparednessI hope that all our fellow Legionnaires and family are safe following the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. We want you to be aware of The American Legion programs that are available to assist you during this time of recovery.

The American Legion’s National Emergency Fund (NEF) provides immediate financial assistance to Legion Family members and posts affected by Hurricane Michael. The fund provides up to $3,000 for qualified members and up to $10,000 for posts.

NEF grants do not cover costs of items which should be covered by insurance. It is strictly for assisting Legionnaires with emergency travel, lodging and meals while under mandatory evacuation from their homes. These are considered emergency, out of pocket, living expenses.

In order to qualify for an NEF grant, an applicant must:

  • Have been displaced from his or her primary residence due to a declared natural disaster.
  • Must have sustained damage to their primary residence as a result of the declared natural disaster.
  • Provide copies of receipts of items required to meet immediate needs, such as temporary housing, food, water, clothing, diapers, etc.
  • Provide evidence of damage sustained to their residence.
  • Membership must be active at time of disaster and the time of application.
  • Post grants must derive from a declared natural disaster and substantiating documentation must provide that The American Legion post will cease to perform the duties and activities in the community due to losses sustained.

While the NEF provides immediate assistance to Legion and SAL members, qualified children of Legion-eligible veterans may receive assistance through the Legion’s Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA) program.

The TFA grants do not cover costs of items which should be covered by insurance. It is strictly for temporary food, shelter, utilities, and clothing.

Payout from the funds are currently capped at $2,500 per veteran with minor children (17 years or younger) living at home. Legion membership is not required.

In addition, Department of Florida is also taking applications for the Department’s Hurricane Relief Fund.  This fund is similar to NEF; however, there is no need to have sustained damage to be eligible for funding.  Also, the Department fund will support, any veteran regardless of membership status.  Legionnaires will have first consideration and the program will be active until funds are depleted. 

For more information or to apply for NEF, TFA or Department of Florida’s Hurricane Relief Fund,  contact Department Headquarters at 407-295-2631, or visit


VFW, Legion National Commanders Demand Immediate Action

VA Rates 70 Percent of its Nursing Homes as Failures
VFW, Legion national commanders demand immediate action

WASHINGTON (November 14, 2018) — The national commanders of the nation’s two largest veterans organizations are demanding that Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie bring immediate attention to his nursing home program that currently has 70 percent of its 132 homes receiving failing grades by the VA’s own rating system.

The call by Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. National Commander B.J. Lawrence and American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad is in response to a series of scathing articles by two USA Today and Boston Globe reporters who documented substandard and negligent care at the VA nursing home in Brockton, Mass., which is one of 45 nursing homes that received the VA’s lowest rating of one star. Forty-seven homes received two stars, 16 homes three stars, and 15 homes four stars. Only nine nursing homes received the VA’s top five-star rating.

“While much of the media’s attention has been on the proper implementation of VA healthcare legislation, we cannot forget about 46,000 mostly senior veterans who reside in these nursing homes,” said the two national commanders, who collectively speak for more than 4.6 million members and their auxiliaries.

“The media reports about sub-par care, patient neglect and safety violations at VA nursing homes are more than just disturbing,” said the Legion’s national commander. “Legionnaires, our friends in the VFW, and anybody who respects veterans should be angered by this,” said Reistad. “These are not just patients in a home, these are people who in the prime of their lives risked their lives, and made enormous sacrifices on behalf of our country. America’s veterans deserve better. We not only expect VA to fix these problems immediately, but we want transparency. Those who sleep on the job and ignore the best interests of their patients need to find a different employer.”

Echoing his counterpart, the VFW national commander said “These veterans earned the right to receive high quality care in a fully-staffed and well-managed facility. Their families deserve to know that their loved ones — their heroes — are not being abandoned or abused, and America needs to be reassured that the VA is honoring our nation’s promise to those who have borne the battle,” said Lawrence. “The VA must improve its delivery of quality care at these facilities. It must recruit and retain only the best healthcare professionals and support staff, and it must hold all employees accountable for their actions or inactions. It is not a right but a privilege to work for America’s veterans, and anything less is unacceptable.”

Media Contacts: VFW: Joe Davis, 202-608-8357, , The American Legion: John Raughter, 317-441-8847


Post 16 Prepares to Celebrate 100 Years

Submitted by: Jim Ramos
Press: WCJB 20

Its been one hundred years since the World War One armistice, which means the American Legion will soon celebrate their hundredth year.

The American Legion has been serving the North Central Florida and verteran communities across the nation since 1919.

The Legion opperates on four pillars: veteran’s affairs and rehabilitation, national security, americanism, and children and youth.

The Legion holds multiple events throughout the year, including the Medal of Honor ceremony.

The Legion invites all veterans and their families.

Link to original article:





Post 144 Miami Lakes Co-hosts Benefit

Submission by: Gary E Cardenas, Post 144 Commander
Submitted on: October 30, 2018

On Saturday, October 20 our Post co-hosted with the US Coast Guard Air Base in Opa Locka, for the third year in a row a Veterans Benefits Fair and Meals with Memories. The first one in 2016 only attracted about 720 Veterans due to space limitations. Last November, we attracted almost 1,200 Veterans and their families, as we were allowed to us part of the hangar at the Base. This time our goal was 2,000 and guess what, we did it!! Even thou we ended up not getting half of the hangar as they were repairing airplanes that were being used for support missions in the panhandle (thanks to Hurricane Michael). See link for some photos from the Coast Guard.

Our guest of honor was Gold Star Mother Ms. Georgie Carter, mother of the late USMC, PFC Bruce Wayne Carter, CMOH recipient. As you may already know, the Miami VA Hospital bears his name. By the way, he is buried at Vista Memorial Cemetery in Miami Lakes, where last year on Memorial Day we placed 2,000+ Flags with the help of 7 Boy Scouts Troops/Packs Our Post hosted a Memorial Day Ceremony, where we unveiled the improvements made to the four veterans burial sections by a Boy Scout who did this project for his Eagle. This past Saturday I attended his Eagle Scout Court of Honor where I spoke and presented him with the Legion’s Eagle Scout Pin and a Certificate.

The next Eagle Scout Project is to place a headstone on the tomb of PFC Carter-CMOH; is the least he deserves. I am now working with mom to get her permission.

At the Veterans Benefits Fair event our Post was recognized by a Proclamation from Miami Dade County, declaring Oct 20, 2018 as “American Legion Post 144 Day.” for our work in support of our Veterans. It was presented by Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, a Vietnam Veteran Marine. See photo attached.

At this event, in addition to the 2,000 Veterans, and free food ,we had employers, nearly 100 Benefits vendors, the DOV truck issuing drivers licenses with the V designation at no charge, the Department of Labor, the FDVA, the Miami VA, Hair for Heroes, full color guard from SOUTHCOM, Veterans Motorcycle Riders, The Salvation Army, and much more.

See some attached photos (you can see me (bald head my District Cap on chest) on one of them during the opening prayers. By the way, the young lady singing the National Anthem is a contestant on this season of the Voice.


Declassified Normandy Landing Photos

Here is a presentation of images and history of the Normandy Landing:

Click here for Presentation


Hurricane Relief Efforts

To all concerned:

We are witnessing a swift change by the local, state, and federal agencies that are embedded in the disaster prone areas on how non-registered volunteer organizations are being treated and prevented from attempting to provide logistical needs to those affected.

Mexico Beach is off limits as of 6 am 10/23/18 unless you’re a registered organization through Tallahassee or a Federal entity authorized to operate within. A special armband is required to be worn for access.

Port St. Joe is potentially next on the list as it too received devastating destruction.

Outlying areas are receiving the support required and folks know where to get aid/relief.

Bill Hoppner and I were shunned when we offered our service and support. The Supply Center controlled by a Red Cross team advised us that our American Legion resources and services were not required, that they had everything they needed, and that we should go talk with the County EOC.

Today I was called and informed that tractor trailers, large trailers, large trucks with hurricane aid supplies will be turned away from all (POD) Point of Distribution sites and Designated Supply Centers. They will be referred / advised to take their loads to a designated warehouse in the Tallahassee area to off load. There the supplies will be segregated, stored, and shipped to the PODs or Supply Centers when commodities are requested.

As a State EOC representative implied, we are considered “Amateurs” and they do not want us in their way, providing services or support to those that are in need.

The material shift is rapidly changing and those registered organizations are not prepared to support those endeavors. When they begin to pack up and go back to where they came from, the local residents will begin seeking organizations such as The American Legion to assist with some of their needs and we must be ready.

Our final push of basic necessities will continue over the next three weeks thru November 17th. Those American Legion Posts in the affected areas who are willing to accept and distribute supplies to their veterans and communities are requested to contact either William “Bill” Hoppner at / (305) 968-7979 or Stephen Shuga at / (407) 394-5534 to coordinate your request.

We will alert all who have given to stop acquiring the typical support currently being provided as they are swamped with supplies. We will request that all further shipments beyond November 17th stop until further notice.

Due to the rapid response of the local, state, federal agencies and programs that have overwhelmed the affected areas, support continues to press on. The utility companies have been feverishly working to turn on power, water, sewage, and communications. Boil water notices are lifting, and soon the curfews will end. Students are returning to school and the local infrastructure is springing back to life. All that’s left is the cleanup and rebuilding.

Just remember this: “ Our Veterans are Our #1 Concern and We Will Take Care of Our Veterans! “

For God and Country.
PDC Stephen Shuga


Biketoberfest Daytona Event

The American Legion has joined forces with AbbVie Inc., a global biopharmaceutical company, to launch TAKE ON HEP C, a nationwide movement to bring free hepatitis C (hep C) testing to veterans and their communities. Taking center stage of the TAKE ON HEP C campaign is a 45-foot tour bus that is used as a mobile veteran outreach command center known as “The Legion One.” The bus offers free hep C testing, on-the-spot results and information for how to seek treatment, if needed.

This project also provides a great opportunity for local posts to staff a membership outreach tent setup with the bus. We provide the tent, you engage your community AND GROW YOUR MEMBERSHIP!

EVENT: Biketoberfest Daytona
DATE(S): Thursday, October 18 – Sunday, October 21
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday
LOCATION: 307 N Beach St • Daytona Beach, FL 32114
(Adjacent to Indian Motorcycle Daytona Beach)
REQUEST: Please send up to four (4) volunteers who can engage those attending the event. Share information about the benefits of being an American Legion member and encourage them to participate in the free hep C testing.

Volunteers should be scheduled in four-hour shifts. Duties include support with light set-up/tear down (tents, tables, chairs).

Free parking is available onsite. However, please plan ahead and allow extra travel time as parking is limited.

Staff shirts will be provided for all volunteers to wear upon check-in at the event. One shirt per person.

This is a casual, outdoor event so jeans or shorts of an appropriate length are recommended with Legion logo items and cap.

This annual Daytona Beach motorcycle rally draws more than 100,000 visitors. Bikers, motorcycle enthusiasts and curious travel seekers will enjoy beautiful fall weather, live music and more.
ABOUT HEP C: Testing for hep C is especially important for veterans, specifically those who served in the Vietnam conflict between 1964 and 1975. One out of every 20 veterans enrolled with the Veterans Health Administration has hep C, more than three times the infection rate of the general U.S. population.


Thank you in advance for your consideration in supporting this important effort. If you’d like to volunteer or have any questions, please contact Dave Baughman at 317-517-4161 or


Fla. Stat. § 205.055

Fla. Stat. § 205.055

The Florida code and constitution are current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

LexisNexis® Florida Annotated Statutes  >  Title XIV. Taxation and Finance. (Chs. 192 — 221)  >  Chapter 205. Local Business Taxes. (§§ 205.013 — 205.1975)

§ 205.055. Exemptions; veterans, spouses of veterans and certain servicemembers, and low-income persons.

(1)  The following persons are entitled to an exemption from a business tax and any fees imposed under this chapter:

(a)  A veteran of the United States Armed Forces who was honorably discharged upon separation from service, or the spouse or unremarried surviving spouse of such a veteran.

(b)  The spouse of an active duty military servicemember who has relocated to the county or municipality pursuant to a permanent change of station order.

(c)  A person who is receiving public assistance as defined in s. 409.2554.

(d)  A person whose household income is below 130 percent of the federal poverty level based on the current year’s federal poverty guidelines.

(2)  A person must complete and sign, under penalty of perjury, a Request for Fee Exemption to be furnished by the local governing authority and provide written documentation in support of his or her request for an exemption under subsection (1).

(3)  If a person who is exempt under subsection (1) owns a majority interest in a business with fewer than 100 employees, the business is exempt. Such person must complete and sign, under penalty of perjury, a Request for Fee Exemption to be furnished by the local governing authority and provide written documentation in support of his or her request for an exemption for the business under this subsection.


  1. 24, ch. 2018-118, eff. July 1, 2018.

LexisNexis® Florida Annotated Statutes

Copyright © 2018 Matthew Bender & Company, Inc. a member of the LexisNexis Group. All rights reserved.


VOTE NO on Amendment (3)

Legionnaires: if possible please make signs to put out that state the following:

VOTE NO on Amendment (3)
It is not in the interest of Florida but in the interest of the Seminoles and Disney!!

Give Post members the signs to put in there yards or where traffic will be able to read and consider voting NO!!!

If your Post has a marque Please put up, Vote No on Amendment (3).

Here’s why:

Beginning in November Florida Residents will be voting on a number of Amendments. One of which will be Amendment # 3. Please read all of them and consider “Vote No “ on Amendment (3)

The November election isn’t just about electing officials . It’s also about survival of every
Legion, VFW, DAV and 501-3C in Florida. !! Your raffles , pull tabs , will be possibly be eliminated if this Amendment passes.

Amendment 3

Working together the Seminole Tribe and Walt Disney have raised over $25 million to put Amendment 3 on the ballot this November. Amendment 3 is called the “Voter Approval of Casino Gambling Initiative” and what is does is require a statewide voter initiative and the voter approval of any changes to Gaming in the state of Florida.

The ballot summary on your November ballot will read:

This amendment ensures that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling by requiring that in order for casino gambling to be authorized under Florida law, it must be approved by Florida voters pursuant to Article XI, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution. Affects articles X and XI. Defines casino gambling and clarifies that this amendment does not conflict with federal law regarding state/tribal compacts

What the current advertising campaign fails to mention is that charitable gaming by the various fraternal organizations in Florida would also be affected. The ability to conduct instant bingo and raffles could be challenged as house banked games. It would also require any new gaming for fraternal organizations be put on a statewide ballot which has historically cost more than $10 Million (and would likely be opposed by both the tribe and Walt Disney).

While the name says “Voter Approval” it is really just creating a monopoly for the Seminole Tribe. This would give the Seminoles exclusive right because they already control all Casinos now and re grandfathered in already.


An urgent matter needs your help

Dear American Legion Family and Friends,

I had wanted my first email communication to you to be about Team 100 — my theme for this historic year as The American Legion transcends its first century of service into its next.

There will be plenty of opportunities in my year as national commander to discuss Team 100, pay tribute to the Legion’s century of accomplishments and celebrate our rise into the next 100 years.

But I learned of an urgent matter today that has a potentially significant impact on The American Legion and all its members. I am asking for your support.

The United States Postal Service has proposed a rule that would prevent The American Legion (and other nonprofits) from sending merchandise or goods like calendars, stickers, etc. in nonprofit marketing mail. Instead, the USPS would classify these mailings as first-class mail.

This is not a simple change in the category of how mail is sent. This change would eliminate the use of premiums in nonprofit fundraising mail — and would increase The American Legion’s mailing cost by 200 percent.

That significant increase would critically impact our programs dedicated to helping and advocating for veterans, mentoring children, assisting transitioning servicemembers, providing scholarships for students, comforting the afflicted throughout every community in our great nation.

We must quickly work together to let the USPS know this proposal is unreasonable. My team has prepared a sample templated letter. I encourage you to download the template, personalize it with your information and email it to the USPS ( with the subject line: USPS Marketing Mail Content Eligibility.

Please don’t delay. This is an urgent matter and the letters must be emailed no later than Friday, Sept. 14.

Thank you for your assistance, and for what you do every day on behalf of our nation’s veterans, servicemembers and their families.


Brett Reistad
National Commander