The Florida Defense Support Task Force is the main body of support for the defense industry in Florida, awarding grants and guiding the future of military operations in the state.
The Florida Defense Support Task Force is a legislatively mandated council (created by Florida Statute 288.987) whose mission is to preserve, protect, and enhance Florida’s military missions and installations. Below are the members of the Florida Defense Support Task Force.
THE FLORIDA DEFENSE SUPPORT TASK FORCE IS CHARGED WITH:
Working with Florida’s Base Commanders to prevent encroachment from impacting mission capabilities for military forces based in Florida
Maintaining and expanding the missions of Florida’s military installations
Improving transportation access to Florida’s military installations
Assisting installations in meeting DOD renewable energy goals
Strengthening state support for military families and veterans with a focus on education, health care, employment and family programs
Senator Wright was elected to the Senate in 2018 and represents Senate District 14, which consists of parts of Brevard and Volusia Counties. He currently serves as Chair of the Senate Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs and Space. He serves on four additional committees; The Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs; Commerce and Tourism; Environment and Natural Resources and the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee. He is also proud to serve as Co-Chair of the Florida Space Caucus.
Tom Neubauer is the owner and President of ERA Neubauer Real Estate, Inc., a leading brokerage and management company with offices serving Florida’s Bay, Gulf, Washington, and Walton Counties. He formed his firm in 1977 where he and his wife Margaret have worked together for 41 years. Mr. Neubauer grew up in an Air Force family and has maintained close ties to the military in various capacities. In June 2018 he was presented the Association of Defense Communities (ADC) Community Leadership Award at a ceremony in Washington DC.
Thomas G. Bowman was nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as The Deputy Secretary of The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on August 3, 2017. He retired from the VA on June 15, 2018 . and established TGB Strategies LLC to advice, counsel and assist on Veteran and Military issues. Prior to being sworn in as Deputy Secretary, Mr. Bowman served as Majority Staff Director of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. From 2012 to 2014, he served as Special Assistant for Veterans Research at the University of South Florida in Tampa, and from 2009 to 2012 he served as Senior Advisor to the Director of VA’s Sunshine Healthcare Network serving Veterans in Florida, Southeastern Georgia, and the Caribbean. Mr. Bowman’s previous appointments within VA were Chief of Staff of VA, Deputy Chief of Staff of VA, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs, Acting Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, and Executive Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. Before joining VA in 2002, Mr. Bowman served as Senior Counsel to the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. Mr. Bowman was commissioned in the United States Marine Corps through the NROTC Program at the University of Texas in 1969. From 1970 through 1975, he served as a platoon commander, company commander, and battalion, regimental, and division staff officer with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Marine Divisions in Southeast Asia, Okinawa, and the U.S. After law school, he was assigned to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., where he served as a prosecutor, defense counsel, and Law Center Director. He then served as the Marine Corps Representative and Instructor of Law at the Naval Justice School and a guest lecturer at the Naval War College, Newport, R.I., from 1983 to 1988. Mr. Bowman left active duty in 1988 to become an assistant district attorney in southeastern Massachusetts but was recalled to active duty during the Gulf War. Released in May 1991, he practiced law concentrating in military and Veterans issues before returning again to active duty in 1994. He retired from the Marine Corps as a colonel in October 1999, after serving as Senior Military Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs and to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Secretary Bowman is a member of the Board of Directors for The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV).
Most recently, General Diehl served as Deputy Director of Engagement, Plans and Policy Directorate, Headquarters U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. As Deputy Director, General Diehl was responsible for building and maintaining military-to-military bilateral relationships with 22 countries in the command's area of responsibility. Additionally, he was responsible for the guidance and sustainment of more than 70 Coalition nations supporting the United States in fighting the global war on terrorism. General Diehl received his commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1975. A command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours in the C-130, KC-135 and C-141, he commanded the 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill AFB, and the 62nd Airlift Wing at McChord AFB, Washington.
The Adjutant General of Florida
Major General John D. Haas, The Adjutant General of Florida, is the Governor’s senior military advisor and serves as director of a state agency, the Florida Department of Military Affairs. As Adjutant General, he is responsible for the training and operations of the Florida National Guard, which is comprised of approximately 12,000 Soldiers and Airmen.
Since retirement, General Haddad continues to serve as an advisory board member for Mission United, an organization that has teamed with the VA and The United Way to assist veterans with transition, employment, benefits and numerous other support networks. He was also appointed by the Senate Majority Leader to a seat on the Florida Defense Support Task Force. The task force makes recommendations to preserve and protect military installations and missions; supports state’s position in research and development related to or arising out of military missions and contracting, and finding ways to improve the state’s military friendly environment for service members, dependents, military retirees and businesses that bring military and base-related jobs to the state. The General is also a board member for the Tampa Bay Defense Alliance whose mission is to promote a collaborative and engaged environment that vigorously supports a robust and growing defense community. Unified in actions, a forum of strategic thinkers, provides vital linkage to all organizations supporting our military personnel and their families Maj. Gen. Richard S. "Beef" Haddad retired in 2016 as Vice Commander, Air Force Reserve Command. He directed the daily operations of the command, with 70,000 Citizen Airmen and more than 300 aircraft among three numbered air forces, 33 flying wings, 10 flying groups and one space wing. He also served as Deputy Chief of the Air Force Reserve in the Pentagon. General Haddad is a veteran special operations pilot with hundreds of hours of combat flying in the AC130 Spectre Gunship and the MC130 Combat Talon during Operations Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. His aerial combat awards include three Distinguished Flying Crosses with “V for Valor” device, and five Air Medals. He has deployed to combat zones eight times during his career. Following September 11th, General Haddad commanded the 711th Special Operations Squadron through operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, during which the unit compiled more than 5,000 combat hours of accident-free flying and is still recognized as the most combat-decorated Reserve flying unit. General Haddad was commissioned through the Air Force Academy in 1981. He served in a variety of flying and command positions in the Air Force and Air Force Reserve. General Haddad was the first Air Force general officer nominated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to serve as Commander, Special Operations Command Korea. He is a retired American Airlines pilot. He is married to Ginger, a retired Air Force Colonel and Judge Advocate. They have two daughters, Alexandra, an attorney, and Victoria, a Physician.
Patt Maney is a veteran, a father, a respected retired judge, and a longtime resident of Okaloosa County. After being commissioned in the United States Army Reserve in 1970, Patt served his country for over 36 years, retiring as a brigadier general in 2007. Patt served as an Okaloosa County Judge for almost 29 years. During that time, he fought for justice in our community and was influential in bringing more quality healthcare to our veterans. Patt was honored as the national 2019 DAV Outstanding Disabled American Veteran and named Military Order of the Purple Heart National Patriot of the Year in 2010. Patt was also given the United States Army War College Outstanding Alumni Award (2019) for his community service after military retirement. Patt was inducted into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame (2018) and appointed to serve on the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame Council (2019) for making significant contributions to the State of Florida after military service. Born in Lexington, Kentucky, Patt grew up with a strong work ethic. His first jobs were cutting grass and delivering newspapers. Patt worked his way through college and law school. By the age of 18, his devotion to service saw him earn the Boy Scout Eagle Scout Award, Boy Scout God and Country Award and the British Duke of Edinburgh Award. After marrying his college sweetheart, Caroline, he set off for law school, at times working two part-time jobs. Married over 48 years, the Maneys are blessed with two daughters, two sons-in-law and six grandchildren. They attend Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, and have been Okaloosa County residents for 44 years. Patt had dual careers in law and the military. He established a successful private law practice representing working families and later served as a county court judge. He taught as an adjunct instructor for both the University of West Florida and Okaloosa Walton Community College (now Northwest Florida State College). Patt was a founding director of a community bank serving local citizens. He continued to serve in the Army Reserve while practicing law and serving as a judge. Commissioned as an Army Infantry Second Lieutenant upon graduating from college, he saw service in Panama, Haiti, Bosnia and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, he was wounded and spent almost 20 months recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Patt returned home in 2007 with a renewed passion to serve his community.
Kay Rasmussen is an accomplished national board-certified economic developer currently serving as the Associate Director for One Okaloosa Economic Development Council in Northwest Florida. She oversees the day-to-day business and financial operations for the non-profit organization. Additionally, she is the executive officer leading the tri-county Defense Support Initiatives Committee; a military issues advocacy group. Ms. Rasmussen co-founded and organized the five-county Northwest Florida Defense Coalition to interface at the local, state and Federal levels supporting the regional military installations. She has authored position papers on military-related issues such as protecting the Eastern Gulf Test & Training Range from oil drilling and related activities, Veteran and family topics, military construction (MILCON), Gulf Range Enhancement (GRE), and strategic basing factors. She is an Alumnus of the Air Force Air University Air War College National Security Forum at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. A subject matter expert on military-community partnerships, Ms. Rasmussen is a featured panelist for the Building Partner Aviation Capacity Seminars sponsored by the USAF Special Operations School at Hurlburt Field, Florida. She stood up work groups and managed targeted subject matter experts under the Tri-County Community Partnership Initiative, such as the Childcare Task Force and the Purple Star School Task Force. She is a veteran speaker at the national Association of Defense Communities’ conferences. Ms. Rasmussen was published by the International Economic Development Journal with, A Unique Partnership Protects Defense Economy and Ecosystems: The Northwest Florida Greenway.
Representative Tyler I. Sirois (pronounced sir-roy) is a lifelong resident of Brevard County elected to the Florida House of Representatives on November 6, 2018. Sirois is Vice President of Human Resources at Atlantic Development, a site development company in Cocoa, Florida, and previously served as Executive Director for the Office of the State Attorney. In 2022, Sirois was appointed Chairman of the House Congressional Redistricting Subcommittee. He is currently Chairman of the Regulatory Reform and Economic Development Subcommittee. Representative Sirois has authored bills advancing Florida’s commercial aerospace industry, promoted free market solutions in healthcare, and sponsored a variety of water projects for the Indian River Lagoon Estuary. Representative Sirois is a past president and current board member of the Friends of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Brevard. A graduate of Florida State University, Representative Sirois and his wife, Katy, reside on Merritt Island and have two children.
Reeves Valentine is the Vice President of Enterprise Sustainment Solutions at Lockheed Martin Training and Logistics Solutions. He leads a team of more than 1,450 global employees who support mission readiness for the United States and its allies around the world through the sustainment of support equipment, avionics test equipment, logistics information systems, defense maintenance solutions, supply chain services and component depot repairs. This diverse portfolio of products and capabilities spans 65 countries and is valued at more than $1.4 billion. Previously, Mr. Valentine was Vice President of F-35 Logistics, where he was responsible for leading the development, delivery, operations and sustainment of ALIS, the F-35 Logistics I.T. backbone. He also served as the Director of Sikorsky Maritime Programs, leading all aspects of program execution for U.S. Navy and Foreign Military Sales Naval Hawk programs, Executive Transport Programs, CH-53E Marine programs, and aftermarket programs supporting U.S. Navy and Marine Corps products. Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, Mr. Valentine served seven years as an officer in the U.S. Army as a Black Hawk aviator. He held positions of increasing responsibility including platoon leader, operations manager and company commander. He served in South Korea, Iraq and within the United States. As an aviator, Mr. Valentine accumulated 1,000 flight hours, including 200 combat hours, and was awarded the Combat Air Medal and Bronze Star Medal during his service in Iraq. Mr. Valentine is proud to serve as an executive champion for the Lockheed Martin Military Veterans Business Resource Group, a network focused on promoting an inclusive environment for all employees and assisting those transitioning from military service to the workforce. He is also a Lockheed Martin spokesperson and volunteer for Home For Our Troops, a nonprofit organization that builds and donates specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured veterans to enable them to rebuild their lives. Mr. Valentine holds a Bachelor of Science in General Management from West Point and a Master of Business Administration from Northwestern University. In addition to serving on the Florida Defense Support Task Force, he currently sits on the Enterprise Florida board of directors to guide economic development in the state.
In 2019/2020, the Task Force awarded $1,447,400 in grants to recipients for improvement projects, including Clay County Development Authority, Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, Military Child Education Coalition, Florida Department of Military Affairs, Bay County Board of County Commissioners and City of Jacksonville Military Affairs and Veterans Department. In 2020/2021, the Task Force awarded $1,250,000 in grants to recipients including Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners, Clay County, Polk County Board of County Commissioners, Orlando Economic Partnership and South Florida Progress Foundation. To apply for a grant, fill out the Grant Funding Application. Click here to view Funding, Contracts and RFPs from the Florida Defense Support Task Force.
The Florida Defense Support Task Force knows that the military is only as strong as the people within it, so it provides state support for military families and veterans with a focus on education, health care, employment and family programs.