Gov. Scott touts veteran home building partnership

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There’s not a whole lot going on in Tallahassee this time of year, or anywhere elected officials typically work for that matter. So without much else to brag about, Governor Rick Scott is using today to highlight the state’s partnership with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and the Building Homes for Heroes program that offers mortgage-free housing to injured veterans.

The state received a $2 million DEO grant, Building Homes for Heroes to build or modify Florida jones for injured veterans who served in the armed forces during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Florida is becoming the most military-friendly state in the nation and our partnership with Building Homes for Heroes is a fantastic opportunity to thank our veterans,” Scott said. “As a Navy veteran, I’m very proud of this partnership and look forward to seeing many more veterans benefitting from this program.”

The program is a national nonprofit organization established to assist wounded American service members and their families.  The organization provided 13 mortgage-free homes throughout Florida. The group expects to construct or modify another 20 homes in the state next year.

“For the last decade, the brave men and women of the Armed Forces have kept Floridians safe. Now it’s time to serve those who have served us. This project will ensure that disabled veterans live in homes that help them lead fulfilling, productive lives,” said  DEO Executive Director Jesse Panuccio. “DEO is fortunate to partner with Building Homes for Heroes to thank and support wounded veterans by providing a home that fits their individual needs and their family as a whole. DEO is committed to serving our military population and this is another great effort.”

Homes are designed to accommodate the specific needs of disabled veterans injured as a result of their service. The group most recently provided US Air Force Master Sergeant Joseph Deslauriers and his family a new, mortgage-free home in Destin, Florida.

Nearly 1.5 million veterans live in Florida. That’s the third largest population of veterans in the nation. The DEO and CareerSource Florida, along with 24 regional workforce boards, also help veterans, spouses of active-duty military members and their families in finding meaningful employment in Florida. So far this year, more than 23,000 veterans assisted by have found jobs

“We’re honored to have Governor Scott’s support, and very pleased to be partnered with DEO in this endeavor,” Building Homes for Heroes president Andy Pujol said. “The state’s support enables us to make a meaningful and memorable difference in the lives of our injured servicemen and women. In addition, we’re seeing an extraordinary spirit of patriotism and community support all across Florida.”

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