(1) PROGRAM PURPOSE.—The purpose of the program is to provide financial assistance and services to eligible servicemembers of the Florida National Guard and eligible members of their families. The program shall be administered by the Department of Military Affairs. The department may be assisted in the processing of applications and the administration of the program by the direct-support organization authorized under s. 250.115.
(2) FUNDING.—The program shall be implemented through funding provided by the direct-support organization.
(3) AUTHORIZED ASSISTANCE.—The assistance available under the program may include:
(a) Housing.—The program may provide housing assistance. Housing assistance includes assistance with emergency repairs, renovations, or replacements that are needed for a servicemember’s primary residential property in order to address health or safety issues or meet disability needs. Housing assistance also includes assistance with lease deposits, mortgage payments, and rent payments.
(b) Living expenses.—The program may provide assistance for living expenses that are reasonable and necessary to meet basic needs for eligible members of the Florida National Guard and eligible members of their families. Living expenses include expenses for clothing, groceries, utility services, motor vehicle fuel and transportation, insurance, and child care that is necessary in order to obtain or maintain employment.
(c) Vehicles.—The program may provide assistance for repairs or short-term rentals required to maintain the primary vehicle of a servicemember’s family in a safe operating condition. If a repair will not restore the primary vehicle to a safe operating condition, or if there is no vehicle, assistance with the purchase of a vehicle may be provided if such a vehicle is necessary.
(d) Health care.—The program may provide assistance for services that are documented by a medical authority as necessary for the health and welfare of the individual. Assistance is not available for elective procedures or medical care that is covered by insurance.
(e) Other services.—The program may provide assistance for a service or expense that is not specifically enumerated in this subsection if the service or expense is reasonable under the circumstances.
(4) ELIGIBILITY.—Persons eligible for assistance from the program include: (a) Servicemembers who are members of the Florida National Guard who are:
1. On active duty serving in the Global War on Terrorism or Overseas Contingency Operation or who request assistance within 120 days after the termination of orders for such service and return to their home of record.
2. Deployed by the Federal Government and participating in state operations for homeland defense or request assistance within 120 days after the termination of orders for such service and return to their home of record.
(b)1. Beneficiaries of an eligible servicemember designated on United States Department of Defense Form 93.
2. Individuals demonstrating a financial need for authorized assistance who are dependents or family members of an eligible servicemember.
(5) REQUESTS FOR ASSISTANCE; REVIEW; AWARDS.—
(a) A request for assistance shall be reviewed and processed at the local level by an official designated by the Adjutant General. During the initial review and processing of the request, the Department of Military Affairs may accept assistance from the direct-support organization. Final review and approval of requests for assistance shall be made by the Department of Military Affairs.
(b) Requests for assistance shall be reviewed and evaluated based on the following criteria:
1. The impact of a servicemember’s absence and inability to assist in home and vehicle repairs or meet other family needs;
2. The economic impact of deployment;
3. The overall financial situation of the applicant;
4. The assistance authorized under the program; and
5. Other relevant information.
(6) QUARTERLY FINANCIAL REVIEW.—The financial committee of the board of directors of the direct-support organization shall review financial transactions of the program each quarter. This review shall be provided to the Department of Military Affairs in order to determine whether the direct-support organization is being operated in a manner that is consistent with the purposes of the Soldiers and Airmen Assistance Fund, and in the best interests of the department. The financial committee may request the Office of Inspector General to conduct additional reviews.
(7) RULES.—The Department of Military Affairs may adopt rules to administer this section.