Gov. DeSantis proposes reestablishing Florida State Guard civilian volunteer force

A volunteer force made up of civilians may be on its way back to Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to re-establish the Florida State Guard to help the National Guard when necessary.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced more than $100 million in funding proposals to support Florida’s National Guard and to reestablish the Florida State Guard.

The Florida State Guard is a civilian-based volunteer force that DeSantis said would assist the National Guard during state-specific emergencies.

During a hurricane, natural disaster or other state emergency, civilians “trained in the best emergency techniques” could be called in through the Florida State Guard to help the Florida National Guard, DeSantis said.

“We also want to make sure that we have the flexibility and the ability needed to respond to events in our state in the most effective way possible. 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, that don’t require the federal government,” DeSantis said.

He noted that Florida would be the 23rd state with a state guard recognized by the federal government, joining states like New York, Texas and California.

The Florida State Guard has not been active since World War II. It was originally created as a replacement for the Florida National Guard while the guard was deployed overseas.

“I think Florida is in the minority of states that has allowed this to go defunct,” DeSantis said. “So we’re happy to be able to bring that back, and I think it’ll be something that’ll be good.”

DeSantis’ budget includes $3.5 million to reestablish the Florida State Guard.

The budget proposal also includes:

  • $87.5 million to expand the existing readiness center in Miramar and to establish three new armories in Homestead, Gainesville and Malabar
  • $8.9 million for existing armory maintenance
  • $2.2 million for a new headquarters for the National Guard Counter Drug Program
  • $5.1 million to support Florida National Guardsmen seeking higher-education degrees
  • $12.2 million in scholarships for children and spouses of deceased or disabled veterans
  • $3.6 million to improve base infrastructure

“We are proud of our veterans and active-duty military members and proud of what our communities do to support them,” DeSantis said. “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. 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.”