Calling all veterans

Published 9:48 am Friday, April 25, 2014

by Larry D. Matthews

To those who are senior citizens, to those who have elderly parents, to those who struggle each and every day with the problem of having so much more of the month left long after what little of the money we have is gone, to those who have faithfully served in the armed forces of the United States of America, foreign and domestic. I am a Vietnam Veteran and for all of us who put our lives on the line each and every day we served in defense of this country, remember the code: “Leave no man/woman behind.”

I truly believe this code applies to us today just as much as it did in our active military lives. It’s almost as if this country has forgotten who and what actually made this country as strong, powerful, and great as it is said to be. I read a newspaper article where an active service member had served not one, not two, but three tours of duty in Afghanistan, and while home on leave escorted his sister to her high school prom. She was proud of her brother all dressed out in his military uniform, and they were arm-in-arm only to be told once getting to the school that he was not allowed to attend his sister’s prom because he was over 21 years of age. Sadly, he was turned away.

Our Constitution states liberty and justice for all. I ask where is the justice in what takes place in the lives of men and women who transition from active military to veteran status. Precious lives were lost and much blood shed so that the people in this country could have and live the lives they do live on a daily basis. Because those of us who defended this country and those who are still defending this country, who are losing lives and shedding blood, are not being treated fairly. Why are our issues and concerns being silenced, unattended and morally overlooked by the people we elected to speak for us?

The injustices that we, as veterans, are receiving from the very people that we helped defend and protect by serving this country must stop. There is a Korean War Veteran by the name of Paul Hogart who lives on Broad Street in the city of Franklin, Ward 4, who is 81 years of age, who is on dialysis, who is also on Life Alert, who lives alone, who knows and quotes the Bible just as well as any theologian I know, who has had his lights turned off by the city of Franklin, not once, but twice, and when Deacon Hogart asked for an extension on his light bill, he was told he was too late in a very uncaring manner. The City of Franklin should be ashamed and, hopefully, very embarrassed by the injustice it has brought on one of its very own by depriving this honorably discharged senior citizen, who has multiple medical issues, of the right to turn on and off his light or be able to flush his toilet. I am very upset, as this has happened to a fellow vet, friend, mentor and community historian. And this poses another problem, for if they did this to him, this could very well be one of us or one of our loved ones in the near future.

Scripture asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” I ask that those of you who have served this country and those of you who are now serving this country not to be remiss in coming to the aid of our fellow man/woman wherever we see inhumane treatment by whomever. I ask, as my pastor puts it, “for us to be unashamed,” in exposing injustice wherever it is. If we who have served are being treated like this by those we swore to protect and defend, I ask what are our active military who are now serving are to expect once they themselves become veterans.

I leave you with a quote from our 35th president, John F. Kennedy. “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

LARRY DEMETREIOUS MATHEWS is a resident of Franklin and a concerned Vietnam War Veteran.