Jennifer enlisted in the United States Navy in 1979 rising from the ranks of an enlisted jet mechanic E-1 to retire as a Lieutenant Commander Aviation Maintenance Officer after 20 years. During her time in the Navy she was awarded numerous awards that include: Meritorious Service Medal, two Navy Commendation Medals, two Navy Achievement Medals, two Joint Meritorious Unit Award, three Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbons, U.S. Coast Guard Operations Ribbon, Navy "E", Good Conduct Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, two Navy Volunteer Service Medal, two Sea Service Ribbons, Overseas Ribbon, Navy Recruiting Service Ribbon, two Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbons, and an Expert Pistol Medal.
Jennifer was appointed to head the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA) in 2001 by Governor Jeb Bush. She was responsible for managing a $30 million budget, 450 personnel, and claims and benefits for over 1.8 million Florida veterans, the department's Information Technology related services, public & government relations and project management of State Veteran's Nursing Homes and systems.
Always seeking way to fight for veteran's, during her time as Executive Director of FDVA she lobbied the VA to improve consistency to include standardizing raters' training to reduce claims backlog, she advocated to get the Veterans Affairs Schedule for Rating Disabilities streamlined so all service veterans can be rated equally, she also lobbied to get the VA to modernize their information technology system to improve claims processing, and to have a seamless transition of medical records for military members when they exited the active duty forces. In fiscal year 2001, under her leadership, more than $63 million in retroactive compensation was awarded to Florida's veterans. She retained state construction funds for Bay and Charlotte County State Veterans' Nursing Homes; submitted two winning federal matching grant applications that resulted in $15 million of federal funds for these projects. Jennifer also cut the department spending by 12% in one year. Jennifer was the Chairperson for the Florida Council on Homelessness, and she sought ways for Florida to provide enhanced services toward solving homeless problems in the state, particularly within the veteran's community. Jennifer worked closely with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to secure Jacksonville as a site to receive a national veteran's cemetery. President George W. Bush appointed her to the Veterans Disability and Benefits' Commission; she was the only female member of the 13 member commission.
Jennifer is a strong advocate for helping veteran's get back to work. She promoted Florida Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Mobile Outreach Skills Training (M.O.S.T.) program to help train and put veterans in quality paying jobs.
Jennifer talked about the achievements of the M.O.S.T. program and its impact on placing returning veterans into rewarding jobs. The M.O.S.T. program Achievements:
- • A completion rate of 94%
- • A placement rate of 96%
- • A 6-month retention rate of 91%
- • Graduates have been promoted into responsible positions including line and shift supervisors and manufacturing technicians.
The M.O.S.T. program trains people with little or no prior manufacturing experience, in the basics of manufacturing operations in a fraction of the time of traditional programs. Florida MEP's M.O.S.T. is a fast-track, intensive skills training, recruitment, assessment, and placement program that will provide veterans with qualified employees for your shop floor in just weeks.
Jennifer comforts a mother who lost her son in Afghanistan
Jennifer embraces Military Veteran
Jennifer visits with Honor Detail Veterans
Jennifer presents resolution to the American Legion at Lake Ella to recognize their work on behalf of veterans
Jennifer lays a wreath to honor the fallen at the Memorial Day Event Jacksonville FL
Jennifer meets with staff at Lake City VA Hospital
Jennifer gives Valentines gifts to Disabled Veterans at Lake City VA Hospital
Jennifer Honoring Florida's Veterans at a bill signing to allow disabled veterans to have a designated area for recreational hunting
Jennifer participated in Ride 2 Recovery with Disabled Veterans