[A retired Navy veteran chose to lead one the of the divisions said he] viewed the program as more of a Federal Emergency Management Agency response team than a National Guard unit, shunning ranks and camouflaged uniforms. He said he saw the State Guard as a resume-builder for college students and a way for veterans and others to continue to serve their communities.
By March, however, the state’s vision began to change.
That month, state lawmakers and the governor revealed that they wanted to assign the State Guard $89 million to buy boats, planes and helicopters. They wanted a specialized unit within the guard to have police powers and the ability to carry weapons.
The program now finds itself leaderless for the second time in less than a year.
A Florida state guard established by the rightwing governor, Ron DeSantis, under the guise of a civilian disaster relief force is instead being trained as an armed, combat-ready militia under his personal command, according to military veteran recruits who have quit the program.
“The program got hijacked and turned into something that we were trying to stay away from: a militia,” [the] retired navy veteran with 20 years’ experience, told the reporters.