Governor Scott makes Sarasota appearance to honor veterans

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Florida has the third highest population of military veterans in the country, and Governor Rick Scott made a stop on the Suncoast Tuesday morning to honor some of those veterans.

Nearly 200 veterans from around the Suncoast filled the Sarasota National Guard Armory where Governor Scott held a special ceremony, fulfilling one of his goals as governor: to treat our military with respect.

"They go to defend our freedom and they do a wonderful job…this great country would not be here but for their sacrifice, so I'm very appreciative of every veteran for their service," said Scott.

At the event, Governor Scott honored a Suncoast native and Vietnam War veteran Col. Ben Knisey, who was shot down and avoided enemy capture for three days with no food or water. "As I look around the room today, many of these men and women in wheelchairs and canes...World War II vets were here, Korea vets…what a nice gesture and what a nice recognition that is so long overdue for so many of them," said Congressman Vern Buchanan.

The hundreds of veterans lined up across the front to shake hands with the governor and Congressman Buchanan, as the governor individually placed the medals around both the veterans and active service members.

The medals are a symbol of honor, with the Florida state seal on the front, and five military seals representing the 5 military branches on the back.

Veterans Service Award medal awarded by Gov. Scott 8/12/2014

"You don't think of yourself as anything special or a veteran when you look around this great room and you see so many folks that came before you, so it's truly an honor to be among them," said Col. Knisely.

Governor Scott says although it's campaign season, the ceremony wasn't a political move on his part. "We need to recognize our veterans all the time. We've been doing that since I came into office."

Gov. Scott continues his tour around the state this week, honoring military veterans. He headed to North Florida Tuesday afternoon to hand out medals to vets living there.