Colonel (Ret) David Abramowitz - US Army -
SUMMARY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING ACCOMPLISHMENTS
After being recruited by the Air Force Academy as a basketball player, David attended the Air Force Academy prep school and then the Air Force Academy. Following graduation from the Academy in spring 1982, he cross-commissioned into the Army. His military education includes the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Aviation Advance Course, Command and General Staff College, the Armed Forces Staff College and the Army War College. He holds a Masters in Military Arts and Sciences from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and a Masters in Strategic Studies from Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
SUMMARY OF NOMINEE’S PROFESSIONAL OR EMPLOYMENT HISTORY
David Abramowitz served in the Army an impressive 31 years. He initially entered the Army as an Infantry Officer, and then branch-transferred to Aviation, where he eventually flew the Blackhawk and Apache helicopters. David deployed to Korea twice, Kosovo, Iraq twice and Afghanistan. After attending Ranger School and Airborne training, David became a Platoon Leader, a Company Commander, a Battalion Commander, and a Brigade Commander. His realm of responsibility continued to expand throughout his military career.
Following are some of the positions he held:
- 2003-05: David served as Commander of the 17th Aviation Brigade. He was Commander of a forward deployed Aviation Brigade, supporting the United Nations command, Combined Forces Command, U.S. Forces Korea, Eighth Army, and U.S. Army Japan. During this time, he was responsible for the leadership and combat readiness of a Command Aviation Battalion, a Heavy Lift Battalion, and an air Traffic Services Group, totaling over 1500 officers and soldiers, along with 23 civilians, 69 aircraft and a half billion dollars in equipment disbursed throughout Korea and Japan. He managed the appropriation and execution of an annual budget of $41 Million.
- 2005-07: David was Commandant of the Sergeant’s Major Academy, annually training more than 25,000 resident and non-resident noncommissioned officers, including Army active and reserve components, international students, and noncommissioned officers from sister services.
He conceptualized, designed, developed, and implemented significant new approaches to all noncommissioned training. Additionally, he was responsible for planning, directing, reviewing, coordinating, and supervising Academy activities.
- 2007-08: David was deployed in Baghdad and served as Chief of Staff for the Iraqi Assistance Group. He was directly responsible for daily operations of the Iraq Assistance Group on all matters of command interest, supervisor and principal coordinator of the joint-service Iraqi Assistance Group staff, and Second in Command of a unit responsible for all advisor
requirements to the Iraqi Army, including the employment of 3000 service members who advised over 500,000 Iraqi Soldiers.
- 2008-12: Inspector General of FORCES COMMAND: David finished his military career as Inspector General (IG) for the Commanding General of U.S. Army Forces Command, the Army’s largest command of 750,000 Soldiers with a $4.5 Billion operating budget. In this role, he directly led and managed a personal staff of 25 soldiers and civilians responsible for
conducting inspections and investigations to determine organizational effectiveness and compliance with all statutory and regulatory Army requirements. This unit served as the focal point for all coordination, action, and execution of external audits, inspections, and investigations
and inquiries generated from the Department of Defense Inspector General, Department of the Army Inspector General, Government Accounting Office, Army Audit Agency, and Congressional and Presidential Inquiries of interest to The Inspector General.
EMPLOYMENT HISTORY BEYOND THE MILITARY
Col. David Abramowitz is an amazing individual. Not only does his military career speak volumes about his dedication to this great country, but his post-military life is equally impactful and has always involved service to others, particularly those in Florida. Department of Children and Families (DCF) 2012-2015: Upon leaving the Army, the Col. served as Region Director of the Florida Department of Children and Families’ Northeast Region, which covers 20 counties, including the metropolitan areas of Jacksonville, Gainesville, and Daytona Beach. As the Region Director, David oversaw DCF’s Operations, including child welfare, adult abuse and neglect, economic self-sufficiency benefits, and substance abuse and mental health services. As noted in SECTION 5 below, after retiring from DCF, David focused on volunteer opportunities that serve veterans in NE Florida.
David Abramowitz gives 200% to everything he becomes involved with, and as a result, he is often recognized for his contributions. Just some of the awards and recognitions bestowed on him include:
• Selected for early promotion to Major and Lieutenant Colonel (top 4% of the Army)
• Defense Superior Service Medal
• Legion of Merit Award (3)
• Bronze Star (2) – Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom
• Defense Meritorious Service Medal
• Air Medal
• Meritorious Service Medal (4)
• Ranger Tab, US Army Ranger School
• Attack Helicopter Regiment Outstanding Leader Award
• Army Aviation Unit of the Year Award (1998)
• Air Assault Badge
• Airborne Badge
• Master Aviator Wings
• Army War College 2001
Despite all these awards, David is most proud of — and motivated by — the relationships he’s developed and maintained throughout his military and post-military life.
SUMMARY OF NOMINEE’S ADVOCACY ON BEHALF OF VETERANS
David Abramowitz’s veteran advocacy is easily demonstrated through his volunteer work, and probably best shared by a quote from Judge Mose Floyd of the Duval Veterans Treatment Court, and an example I can offer.
1. Judge Mose Floyd, Duval County Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) – Florida Fourth Judicial Circuit Court: “For the past four years, Colonel Abramowitz has volunteered to serve as the Lead Mentor of the Duval County VTC. Good mentors are critical to VTC’s success. The mentors make themselves available 24/7 to provide guidance and support for the Veterans. Colonel quickly grew the volunteer mentor staff from 5 to 35; greatly enhancing the likelihood of successful recovery for Veterans diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, Substance and Alcohol use disorders, and Sexual Trauma, among other maladies. He also established and chairs the Friends of Jacksonville VTC, a non-profit organization which provides emergency financial support to VTC veterans
when needed. Colonel Abramowitz has knocked on countless numbers of doors and visited numerous government offices seeking support for local Veterans. Consequently, he has become very well known in the local community. Through leadership in the mentor program and chair of the non-profit, he has literally put homeless Vets in homes, found jobs for the unemployed, and kept the lights on and put food on the table when Vets fell on hard times. There is no limit to what the Colonel is willing to do to support the Vets. He’s babysat kids, acted as chauffer, obtained roadside service for broken down vehicles, gone to bat at
discharge hearings for veterans still on active duty, and the list goes on. The financial support the Colonel provides not only comes from his non-profit, but he’s also contributed thousands of dollars of his personal funds to help veterans in need. And on October 9, 2022, he was recognized by the Jacksonville Jaguars as their Veteran of the Game. His contributions are never-ending. As lead VTC Mentor, Colonel Abramowitz spearheads an initiative to get veterans from VTC to meet with Veterans facing very lengthy if not life sentences who are housed at a nearby prison facility. The VTC Veterans are often the only visitors the inmates
see. The VTC veterans bring words of support which lifts the spirit of the incarcerated Veterans. In return, the incarcerated Veterans provide wise words of warning and encouragement to the visiting Veterans. This is a huge win-win situation for all veterans involved. In his VTC volunteer position, Colonel puts in over 40 hours every week. He is without equal in his dedication and commitment to serving our Veterans. There is no doubt his actions have saved lives among our veteran population in Duval County.”
2. Five Star Veterans Center Board Member: In addition to the 40 hours/week the Colonel commits to VTC, he is an active and engaged Five Star Board Member. Five Star is an organization that provides housing to homeless veterans while also providing them with the mental wellness and life skills necessary to successfully return to civilian life. “As the over 80-year-old Five Star CEO, I am approaching retirement. David stepped up to develop a CEO transition plan that includes where to seek strong candidates, what interview questions make sense, and a timeline for implementing each stage of the plan. With David’s involvement, I am confident the Center will not only survive, but will thrive and continue to serve our homeless veterans.” – Col. Len Loving, CEO Five Star Veterans Center,
SUMMARY OF NOMINEE’S CIVIC ACTIVITIES AND CONTRIBUTIONS
As DCF Director, David was on many boards and took an active role with each one. As he put it:
“Anything with children and families, I was on it”.
• Community Alliance of NE Florida
• NE Florida State Hospital Advisory Council
• Career Source Board of Directors
• Jacksonville Children’s Commission
• Early Learning Coalition of NE Florida
• DCF Operation Education
Additionally, seeing the need for better training within DCF, he founded the DCF Leadership Academy, which focused on teaching junior DCF leaders how to be effective leaders.
“Everything about our culture was on training and keeping our folks (staff members) in DCF.”
LIST ANY AWARDS OR HONORS
Vet Coin: Governor Rick Scott presented Colonel Abramowitz with a Vet Coin. Vet Coins were given to veterans who showed leadership through turning around Florida organizations.
As noted. Under David’s leadership, NE Florida’s DCF made impressive strides in
Colonel David Abramowitz should be strongly considered for the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame due to his positive impact on Florida’s children and their families, families in need of economic assistance, and at-risk veterans and their families. Further, he inspires others to work on behalf of Florida’s at-risk citizens, and his contributions are well-respected by his peers. His willingness and incredible ability to personally engage with people and processes at every level, and then
fight for improvements, has served Florida well. Impact on Florida’s Children/Families: During David’s time as NE Region Director at the Florida Department of Children and Family Services (DCF), his willingness and ability to
personally connect with his fellow employees, and experience and become knowledgeable of DCF processes, resulted in improved morale.
The results were:
1) Lower turnover among DCF’s Child Protective Investigators (reduced from nearly 50% to 8%), which enabled
2) Lowering the average caseload per Child Protective Investigator by more than 40%. The ripple effects were
3) Training costs were greatly reduced (the cost of training new investigators is about $15,000
4) Caseload reduction, which translated into 5) Providing better care and more
appropriate services to families, which further allowed 6) Significantly more families to stay intact rather than children being removed from their homes and placed in foster care. Family stability — a win for everyone involved.
Jackie Green, David’s deputy at DCF: “David’s gift is his ability to connect with people. He achieved greatly improved employee morale and retention not only by seeking input from the front line and responding to their needs, but also by demonstrating how much he personally valued them. One of the most unique and appreciated things he did was personally write “Baby Letters”. They were sent to employees who became parents or grandparents to be shared with the child and told the child how their parent or grandparent impacted the lives of other children and families in the State of Florida. To say the letters were cherished is an understatement; many of those employees still have their letters. He also made hospital visits and wrote personal letters to employees who lost a close family member. David’s Culture of Connection will be long remembered at DCF, and the benefits long enjoyed.” Impact on Families Needing Assistance: Under David’s leadership, DCF began processing food stamp applications nearly 25% faster, all while continuing to keep Florida the number one state in the country for accuracy in food stamp processing for three consecutive years, according to the federal government. This literally means food on the table for those who need it most. David achieved this improvement through personal involvement with the food stamp application process and working closely with employees who worked with the application process daily, to identify what did and did not work at a practical level, and then advocating for change. As a result, the food stamp application process was significantly streamlined, reducing the backlog of food stamp applications in the NE Region from 8% to 1%.
Impact on At-Risk Veterans and their Families:
Judge Mose Floyd and Col. Len Loving said of Colonel Abramowitz’s volunteer work with the Veterans Treatment Court and his active involvement as a Five Star Veterans Center Board Member, is nothing short of impressive.
Whether it is ensuring Veterans dealing with the impacts of PTSD, TBI and other post-service issues have the legal resources and support necessary to remain productive citizens and welcome members of their families, or to drive the Five Star Veterans Center to the next level in helping vets successfully re-enter civilian life, he is on the front line, personally involved in making things happen.
Following are testimonials from just a few of the veterans David has helped at Veterans Treatment Court (VTC).
Troy Blackstone: “For openers, I love this man. He saved my life. He was the first person I interacted with at VTC and he guided me through the entire process, doing everything in his power to make sure I succeeded. That included taking me to appointments and providing bus passes to help get me there when he wasn’t available, giving me 24/7 access to speak with him about anything, including family issues, and even personally paying for my court-ordered DUI School without expectation of being paid back. He also helped me secure VA benefits and
disability, which has helped me regain financial stability. Prior to working with David at the VTC, I was headed for divorce, and my family had restraining orders out on me. He spoke with my wife and assured her I was going to get better and encouraged her to stick it out. She did, and my marriage is now thriving. Also, my family and I have a greatly improved relationship, for which I am tremendously grateful. Clearly, meeting David changed my life. I also want to comment on his unwavering commitment to the veterans in VTC. Recently, his father has been
very ill. Regardless, he’s made a point to travel back weekly and be at VTC to support the veterans counting on him. That’s the kind of commitment you don’t see every day.”
John Geiger: “I will graduate from VTC’s 12-month program in two days (May 17, 2023), and I would never have made it into or through this program without the encouragement and involvement of David Abramowitz. He and VTC Judge Floyd have changed my life forever. I would take a bullet for that man. David has been available to me at all hours of the day and night to help me work through issues. He went well beyond just helping me complete the program; he helped me get on the path to a successful life. And I’m not the only VTC vet he’s done this for.
I’m just one of many. David and Judge Floyd are a unique team and their levels of coordination and commitment to help turn around the lives of at-risk veterans is beyond compare. They found me the mental healthcare I needed to address my PTSD, reminded me of/re-instilled the leadership skills I learned while serving in the Marines, and inspired me to step out of my comfort zone. Today, I own my own business. I cannot thank them enough. I am so proud to know David. He has inspired me in many ways, one of which is to become a VTC Mentor. I hope to deliver the same level of help and encouragement to other veterans that he provided me. There is no one more deserving of gratitude and recognition than him.”
Nino Serrano: “There is no Duval Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) without David. His devotion to all veterans that come through the program is beyond what anyone else would do. And he’s (just) a volunteer. In my situation, I was at a real low point. I’d lost my job, was going through a divorce, was in school but without the resources to pay for tuition or rent or child support. Oh, and I have PTSD. David welcomed me into the VTC program and gave me hope. He let me know it’s okay to have PTSD and an addiction and be facing tough times, and told me we’d get through it together. We would fix things together. And we did. He provided funds, transportation, food, guidance, encouragement and friendship. His interactions with veterans is personal. When he learned I was running seven miles each way to do my drop-offs (court ordered urine tests), he lent me a bike. He’s taken my kids and me out to lunch, and we’ve attended baseball games together. My kids love him as much as I do. Today, I have a life I’m very proud of. I graduated from college, have a great job and strong relationships with my children, and I am able to give back. I am now a Mentor at VTC and try to provide the veterans I work with the same care and support I experienced from David. He’s a role model. And I also believe he’s a “First-dollar Hall of Famer”.
Of course David’s impact on Florida — and especially veterans — is not lost on his peers.
Michael P. Fleming, Brigadier General (ret): “Colonel (ret) Dave Abramowitz epitomizes selfless service. Dave leverages his significant leadership skills to serve as one of the leading Northeast Florida veteran leaders. He has been instrumental in the success of the Duval County Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) through his work as the VTC’s Mentor Coordinator. To say that Dave has provided hundreds of volunteer hours in this position would be an understatement and he has also provided personal funds when a veteran needed support. The VTC Mentor Program is a critical element in the journey of those veterans going through the VTC and Dave has recruited and trained community members to ensure each VTC veteran has a mentor. In addition to this role, Judge Moses Floyd counts on Dave to be a trusted advisor for all aspects of the Duval County VTC program. Dave also volunteers his time with important organizations like Five Star Veterans Center and others that provide support to veterans and military families. His total commitment to the military community is inspiring to me and others who believe in the importance of giving back after we leave active military service. Dave Abramowitz is truly worthy of the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame. Mike Carroll, FL DCF Secretary, 2014-2018: “What I think about most when I think of David Abramowitz is how present he was with the staff and families he worked with at DCF. He was there not only to celebrate their successes, but he was also there in the tough times, the tragic times. I think his years in the military gave him the ability to provide whatever level of support was needed. The staff and families always knew David had their back. And because of that, his region achieved the lowest removal rate (taking children from homes) of any region in Florida. The data has long shown that kids do immeasurably better if they can be left in their homes and wrapped with the appropriate services to keep them safe and healthy. While it’s often easier to place kids in foster care, David was not afraid to make the tough decisions and do the necessary work to give families the chance to succeed. In NE Florida, he built a culture of leaving kids in the home, and I’m happy to say that culture remains today. David’s strength of character is his superpower and it’s evident in everything he does. He is more than deserving of this FL Veterans Hall of Fame recognition.”
Judge David Gooding, Duval Dependency Court: “I have observed the DCF process throughout the state of Florida and been involved on a national basis. What made David Abramowitz unique was that he always stood shoulder to shoulder with the children and families he supported to ensure the very best outcome. He did not hesitate to talk openly and honestly with anyone, including superiors and bureaucrats, even challenging established rules and guidelines when needed, to make sure children were taken care of. He was not concerned with CYA, but with doing what was in a child’s best interest. David helped many families in NE Florida during his tenure with DCF.”
In Closing… Colonel David Abramowitz is someone I greatly admire. Even more so after pulling together the information for this nomination. Not only did he serve our country through his 31 years in the Army, much of it on deployment, but as soon as he retired from the military, he began serving Florida. First, as a Region Manager in DCF, where he made significant and lasting positive impacts on the children and families in NE Florida, and now he is saving and improving lives through his countless hours working with at-risk veterans who are participating
in Duval’s Veterans Treatment Court. I am proud to know David and to have him as a member of the Five Star Veterans Center Board, and believe he is an excellent candidate for the FL Veterans Hall of Fame.