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DeSantis announces a new Florida State Guard and the retired Marine who will lead it

 Gov. Ron DeSantis Wednesday in Madeira Beach announced the restablishment of the Florida State Guard.
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Florida Channel
Gov. Ron DeSantis Wednesday in Madeira Beach announced the restablishment of the Florida State Guard.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday announced the reestablishment of the Florida State Guard.

Speaking in Madeira Beach, DeSantis said Florida joins 22 other states and territories with state-level defense forces.

He said the guard will be able to more quickly help residents in times of disaster.

"The Florida State Guard will be comprised of Floridians, and it will be designed to assist and help only Floridians,” Desantis said.

“It will not be subject to be mobilized by the federal government. And the federal government cannot impose policies or penalties on the Florida State Guard.”

The state will add 400 Florida State Guard members to respond to a projected active hurricane season.

DeSantis said more than 1,200 people have already expressed interest in joining.

The Florida Legislature has allocated $10 million toward the Florida State Guard.

Desantis said the National Florida Guard numbers haven't kept up with the state's population.

"We're 53 out of 54 amongst U.S. states and territories for guard to citizen ratio," DeSantis said. "And so I think we used to have like 5 million people in the state. Now we have 22 million people plus and many more visit. And yet our guard hasn't kept up on that."

Retired Marine Corps. Lt. Col. Chris Graham was tapped to lead the organization as its new director.

“I think this unit has a particularly important mission. As Floridians, you guys knew the last hurricane’s behind us, the next hurricane’s on the horizon,” Graham said.

“Anything we can do to help, I want to help as this functions as a state defense force also. I want to build in whatever capabilities are constructive and helpful in that regard, too.”

For more information, visit flsg.myflorida.com.

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Daylina Miller, multimedia reporter for Health News Florida, was hired to help further expand health coverage statewide.