Ten companies chipped in $35,000 so that returning National Guardsmen will make it home in time for Christmas.
Governor Rick Scott announced the gift at Publix in Dr. Phillips. The soldiers are with the 116th Artillery and will mostly be returning home to Avon Park and Lake Wales. Major General James Tyre with the Florida National Guard has been deployed over the holidays many times and understands the value.
"With the technology we have today, there's Skype, but I'm telling you Skype is no comparison to reaching out and putting your arms around your loved ones."
The Guardsmen are returning from a deployment, but would have been stuck on a closed base in Mississippi as they would wait until after the holidays to finish with their discharge paperwork and interviews. It's such a relief for the woman charged with caring for the soldier's families at home, Deann Marasco. Her husband will make it home as well.
"It does tell us that we are all in the state of Florida one family, and I appreciate everything you all have done."
Governor Rick Scott thanked the 10 companies, Publix, Walmart, Walgreens, Badcock Furniture, Bealls, Chico's, Great Bay Distributors, Play It Again Sports, and the Florida Retail Association. Governor Scott was twice deployed for the holidays and told us it was lonely.
"I was in the Mediterranean. We did our normal duties. I was a radar man, so we did our duties that day, but I saved. My wife and I wrote a letter to each other every day, so I saved up a whole bunch of them."
The Guard Members are returning from a 10 month deployment to Qatar and Afghanistan.