America has come a long way from the shameful days of spitting on returning soldiers. However, it is undeniable that we have a long way to go in terms of offering the support to veterans that they deserve. The failures by the VA have been an illustration of the failures of the problems of big government and the failures of the Obama Administration to adequately remedy the VA scandal is illustrative of a regime that simply doesn’t care about this nation’s warriors.
Though liberals and conservatives might tend to disagree about the best ways to care for our veterans, where we can find common ground is that all should be able to agree that demolishing a veterans home when he’s out having surgery probably isn’t the best way to honor his service to this country.
Philip Williams, a Navy veteran, recently travelled from Long Island, New York, to Florida for a knee replacement. While he was gone, however, the town demolished his home and all the possessions inside. Now, Williams is fighting for compensation.
Williams travelled from his home in Hempstead and spent roughly six months recuperating from complications to knee surgery in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. While he was gone, officials deemed his modest two-story home to be uninhabitable and tore it down.
The Navy vet finally returned home and encountered a vacant lot where his home once stood.
“I’m angry and I’m upset. It’s just wrong on so many levels,” Williams said “My mortgage was up to date, my property taxes were up to date … everything was current and fine.”
According to King5 News, Williams is fighting for compensation:
Williams went to Florida in December 2014 for the procedure, so a friend could help with his recovery. But he developed infections that forced further surgery and heart complications, leaving him hospitalized until doctors deemed him medically able to return home in August.
When Williams pulled up to what should have been a two-story cream-colored cottage with a red door in West Hempstead, there was just an empty lot.
“My first thought was there was a fire or something,” Williams said.
But there was no fire. According to town officials, neighbors had been complaining the house was in disrepair and a blight on the community. Hempstead officials, responding to those complaints, sent inspectors and determined the house was a “dilapidated dwelling” unfit for habitation. So they knocked it down.
“The house was in terrible condition for a long time,” next door neighbor Keylin Escobar said. “Nobody really lived in the house; the house was abandoned. Everyone who came over to visit, people always say, ‘What’s going on with this house?'”
Kathleen Keicher, who has lived across the street from Williams for 12 years, said notices tacked to the front door of the home began piling up and the house had holes in the side and appeared unkempt.
“I feel terrible. When we knew a house was coming down, it was sad,” she said. “We thought the house was coming down, someone would buy the land, a new house would come up, a new family would move in. … We don’t want anyone to lose their home.”
Williams says he was never contacted and believes town officials thought his house was a so-called “zombie home” — a dwelling abandoned after foreclosure proceedings begin, but one not yet seized by the bank — and rushed to demolish it.
“The town basically took everything from me,” said Williams, who is now staying with a friend in Florida and has only two suitcases of belongings. “The town does not have a right to take all of my property, all of my possessions.”
Williams had lived in the house since he was 6 months old. He said many of the items in the home had been in his family since he was a newborn or had sentimental value, like his late wife’s engagement ring, photos of his six children growing up and a model train set he had since he was a child. He lost all of his clothing, a bicycle he’d just purchased, dishes, silverware and other housewares.
The town is circling the wagons and maintains that they sent Williams notices (that he never received) and sent notices to four different banks, all of whom Williams had no dealings with whatsoever.
“I have no idea who those banks are,” Williams said. “But they never contacted me in any way, shape or form.”
And that’s why his attorney believes that town’s actions were illegal.
“Under the law, it should not happen,” his attorney, Bradley Siegel said. “It’s un-American. It just doesn’t seem believable.”
Rather than admit their horrendous mistake, the town is holding strong and remaining tight-lipped as they anticipate litigation.
Though I am no legal scholar, the facts seem pretty clear: a man who was up-to-date with his mortgage and property taxes left for a period and when he returned, the city had destroyed his house and everything in it without having made proper contact with the owner.
Nobody needs to look to statutes on this one; the town is wrong and should promptly break-out a checkbook to write a hefty check to this man for the damage they have done.