Florida Governor Honors Vets with Service Award

Florida First Lady Ann Scott and Gov. Rick Scott presented service medals to the veterans living and working at the state veterans nursing home in Land O'Lakes.

Florida First Lady Ann Scott and Gov. Rick Scott presented service medals to the veterans living and working at the state veterans nursing home in Land O’Lakes.

Florida is home to around 1.6 million military veterans. That’s a point of pride among state officials — who like to say Florida is the “most veteran-friendly state in the nation.”

Florida offers a number of tax breaks and services to veterans — and now a new honor. Governor Rick Scott has created a state medal to recognize their service.

“The freedoms and opportunities that were afforded by the American dream were paid for by the service and sacrifice of our brave veterans,” Scott said. “That’s why it’s so important that we frequently honor and give thanks to our veterans. Our heroes have made countless sacrifices for our Florida families. That’s why we don’t just wait for the holidays to thank our men and women.”

The governor and his wife, Ann, handed out 136 of service awards at the Baldomero-Lopez State Veterans Nursing Home in Land O’Lakes after a brief ceremony.

Angel Torres-Mendez waits for the governor to present his service medal before a crowd of about 100 residents, staff and family.

Angel Torres-Mendez waits for the governor to present his service medal before a crowd of about 100 residents, staff and family.

Scott made a special point to highlight Sgt. First Class Angel Torres-Mendez calling him up before the crowd to place the service award around his neck. Torres-Mendez served 27 years in the military from 1947 to 1974 including three years in Vietnam as a Green Beret accomplishing 18 special missions, many of them solo.

Well after the dignitaries had gone, Torres-Mendez still proudly wore his medal over his plaid cotton shirt.

“Very few people really know what I have done,” Torres-Mendez said adding that it was “not easy.”

Yet, he would serve again – today if he could.

“Every day I watch the news to see if we get involved with Syria because I wish I could go back on this,” he said.

The Florida Governor's Veterans Service Medal has the state seal on the front and the seals of each of the five military service branches on the back.

The Florida Governor’s Veterans Service Medal has the state seal on the front and the seals of each of the five military service branches on the back.

Despite his long and distinguished military career, Torres-Mendez said the hardest thing he’s ever done was to bury his wife after more than 49 years of marriage.

Although he didn’t have his wife to share in the honors — many family members did come to witness as the governor and his wife distributed the medals to veterans who live there and to veterans who serve on the staff. In all, the governor’s staff said he handed out 136 medals at the Land O’Lakes home.

You can view a portion of the ceremony:

You can listen to the radio version of this story that aired on WUSF 89.7 FM Public Radio.

The governor's staff said they distributed 136 service medals Thursday at the Land O'Lakes veterans nursing home.

The governor’s staff said they distributed 136 service medals Thursday at the Land O’Lakes veterans nursing home.

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2 Responses

  1. A symbolic act that count much for veterans, who need our attention, who, for having served us, merit to receive a thanks by us all, a gratitude for all have made, their sacrifices, their dedition. Honor, buddies, you are the best claudio alpaca

  2. Outstanding, we know SFC Angel Torres Mendez, from LARES, a well known town in Puerto Rico. He was a USARMY advisor to the Best Unit in the USARMY National Guard , Co E 65th Infantry ABN, RANGER Puerto Rico My National Guard stationed in Camp Tortuguero, Vega Baja, PR. And Isla Grande Aviation Facility in San Juan, PR.

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