By Lydia Nusbaum
June 15, 2022 Updated 12:08 P.M. ET
MADEIRA BEACH (FLV) – Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the new Florida State Guard director and said this revived civilian force is needed to help the state’s growing population while the Florida National Guard is stretched thin.
Governor DeSantis said the Florida National Guard is not large enough to help the state’s population. He said the National Guard Bureau in Washington D.C. has “failed” to provide the structure so the guard can grow.
“Our soldiers and airmen have been stretched razor thin as a result of our responses to things like the pandemic, the hurricanes, and periods of civil unrest while at the same time deploying around the globe supporting the federal government’s national security requirements,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis said the lack of federal resources is a main reason for the Florida State Guard’s civilian force to help support the state’s emergency response.
Lt. Col. Chris Graham is the new Director of the Florida State Guard. Graham served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps for 20 years and earned a Purple Heart in 2005.
“I think this unit has a particularly important mission as Floridians,” Graham said. “Anything we can do to help, I want to help us function as a state defense force. I want to build whatever capabilities are constructive and helpful in that regard.”
DeSantis said more than 1,200 people have applied for the force so far but only 400 seats are available.
“I think it’s going to make a big difference because we’ve got huge, huge amount of talent in our state,” he said. “And we’ve got a lot of people that have great skills.”
The Governor said Florida will join more than 20 other states and territories. He criticized the media for negatively portraying the civilian force as “unique” and a way for the Governor to “raise an army.”
“All they did was give free advertising for it. And so people are like ‘oh man I want to join the Florida State Guard. We’re really excited about it,’” DeSantis said.
Originally the Governor had proposed $3.5 million but the Florida Legislature ended up allocating $10 million for the force. The Governor anticipates that number will increase over the years.
The money for the new guard will be available July 1st.
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