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Florida Chamber Foundation hosts military and state leaders at Orlando summit

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Members of Florida’s military, defense and veterans industries met at a Florida Chamber of Commerce summit to boost support for military-related industries.

Attorney General Pam Bondi was expected to present at the Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit.

“Florida is home to more than 1.5 million veterans that have courageously risked their lives to protect our freedom. As a state that welcomes veterans with open arms, it is our privilege and responsibility to ensure our nation’s heroes are protected from anyone that tries to exploit or target them with unfair or deceptive trade practices,” Bondi said.

The purpose, according to an email sent by the Florida Chamber, is to “identify solutions for protecting the industry and for ensuring Florida remains the most veteran-friendly state in the nation.”

“Every day, Florida’s military and defense industry protects our freedoms and American way of life. But, who’s protecting them? It’s important for Florida to recognize and encourage this industry and foster its growth, and the Florida Chamber Foundation is pleased to provide this forum,” said Tony Carvajal, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber Foundation.

The summit attracts some of the state’s most influential leaders to “focus their attention on economic growth as well as the workforce potential of the industry that’s responsible for 10 percent of our state’s economy.”

“Many of those who have worn the uniform of this country have chosen to settle in Florida. Visit any community in our state and you will find veterans in positions of service and leadership,” said U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller. “It is important that we recognize the value of this leadership experience and unique skill sets that our veterans bring to the workforce.”

Florida has 20 different military installations and three U.S. command centers including U.S. Central Command in Tampa. The industry supports three quarters of a million jobs in the state.

“If Florida is to remain competitive and poised for economic growth, we need to work together to ensure that there are future opportunities for veterans and others across the state,” Henry P. Sanders, director of special operations forces programs for Boeing Defense, Space & Security’s Global Services & Support. “Veterans have do much to give all Floridians and all Americans a bright future. Let’s do the same for them.”

The summit not only focuses on active military and other support systems, it also addresses the value of retaining military personnel as they reintegrate into civilian life after retiring.

“USAA lauds the Florida Chamber Foundation for organizing and hosting this important summit to highlight the unique challenges and opportunities our nation’s heroes and their families face as they transition from military life to the civilian workforce,” retired Admiral and current USAA Senior Vice President for Military Affairs John Bird said.

The conversation will continue September 28-30 in Orlando for the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Future of Florida Forum at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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