Twice a year Panama City Beach welcomes Americas wounded heroes into their community for the Warrior Beach Retreat, but an event aimed at honoring our nation’s veterans took a different turn at their hotel.
A group of college students staying at the resort didn’t show these veterans the respect they deserve.
Nicholas Connole, a wounded veteran who served 18 months in Afghanistan and nine months in Iraq, said both he and his dog were spat on by university students in Panama Beach City for a spring formal.
“This retreat has just been an eye opener. It’s been more amazing than I ever thought it would be,” said Gina Harden, the wife of a wounded veteran.
Some veterans say they now know how Vietnam Veterans felt when they came home. They say they were subjected to similar harassment by a group of college students.
The students were staying here at the Warrior Beach Retreat. The abuse occurred mostly when servicemen were walking past.
“They actually spit on me and my service dog as well, and that’s just so disrespectful and it hurts. I come and I feel honored and I feel safe and that I belong, but now I feel like I’m defending myself,” said wounded veteran Nicholas Connole, told WJHG.
Veterans say they were shocked at the level of disrespect these college students had, as if they had no concept what it meant to serve your country. The students threw beer on them from their balconies, and even spit on them.
“They’re a total disgrace for our military,” said Linda Cope, founder of the warrior group, “They were urinating on the American flag they were throwing things off of the balconies.”
These injured soldiers were staying at the Lake Town Wharf Resort at the same time students in the fraternity Zeta Beta Tau from the University of Florida and Emory University were in town for their spring formal.
Cope did receive an apology letter from the president of UF who said he has started an investigation.
‘Disgusting’: Linda Cope, founder of the warrior group, says the frat members were urinating on flags and verbally abusive.
“I said do your investigating, but I want to know what you’re going to do. What are you going to do? I think they all should be put on probation. I’m hoping that this will make a dramatic change in their life to realize they do not need to take the sacrifice and the service of these men and women in vain,” said Cope.
WJHG reported that Cope also received a letter of apology from the University of Florida fraternity’s president, who was there during the incidents, but she still has not heard anything from Emory University.
Emory University released this statement Thursday morning by email:
“Emory University was appalled to learn of acts of disrespect and harassment that were directed at attendees of the Warrior Beach Retreat in Florida this past weekend.
Our brave veterans who have sacrificed much for our country deserve the utmost respect and appreciation for their service.
The disrespectful behavior exhibited by students toward our veterans is not acceptable and will not be tolerated by members of the Emory community.
When Emory received complaints that students from one of our fraternities might be involved, Campus Life administrators immediately began an investigation. To date, no evidence has been found to implicate Emory students in these reported incidents. If any members of our community are identified as being responsible, they will be held accountable for their actions by the university.
Emory University thanks veterans for the significant contributions they have made to our country, and for exhibiting the values that we hold with great respect within our university community.”
The Zeta Beta Tau fraternity was suspended Friday and charged with obscene behavior, public intoxication, theft, causing physical or other harm, and damage to property for allegedly disrespecting disabled veterans by spitting on them, shouting verbal abuse and even urinating on the American flag.
Read full story at Daily Mail
Photos courtesy of the Daily Mail