The history of modern Florida begins with the military, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said the state needs to continue to do what it can to protect and grow its position within the industry.
“The governor has made it his priority that Florida the most friendly state in the country (for military veterans and their family),” said Putnam. “Florida is not taking a defensive posture, but taking an offense posture for how aggressively we’re prepared to move to military commitment.”
Putnam helped kick off the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Military Defense, Veterans & Opportunities Summit in St. Petersburg on Wednesday. The day-long event aims to bring together leaders from Florida’s military and defense industry, economic development experts, and policy makers to discuss the challenges facing the state.
Putnam said the state’s goal should be to expand its footprint, and to continue to be one of the “most military and veteran friendly” states in the nation. To do that, the state needs to communicate the opportunities that are available to veterans.
Putnam is doing his part to do something to say thank you to veterans. In 2011, the Florida Forest Service launched Operation Outdoor Freedom. Putnam pushed for the creation of the program, which provides wounded veterans the chance to participate in outdoor activities at no cost.
Since then, Operation Outdoor Freedom has hosted 300 events on public and private lands. About 2,500 veterans have taken part in the program since its creation.
“I think it’s the least we can do,” he said.
And the state can do more, he said. There needs to be a continued push to make sure Florida doesn’t lose its unified commands. And when it comes to the private sector, businesses should tap into veterans’ expertise.
“We can do great things for our people,” he said. “We can give them some small token of a thank you for the sacrifices that have been made for the things we take for granted.”