‘Total disgrace!’ Fla. town in uproar after drunken frat brothers harass wounded warriors in spring break outrage

What in God’s name is happening to the institutions of higher learning in America?

The University of Florida and a campus fraternity have apologized after coming under fire for the behavior of students who harassed and disrespected a group of wounded veterans on a retreat in Panama City Beach.

Linda Cope, founder of the Warrior Beach Retreat said the students’ behaviour was disgusting, according to the local NBC affiliate WJHG.

“They’re a total disgrace for our military,” Cope told WJHG. “They were urinating on the American flag and throwing things off of the balconies.”

According to the veterans, the students spit at them and threw beer on them from their balconies.

“They actually spit on me and my service dog as well and that’s just so disrespectful and it hurts,” wounded vet Nicholas Connale told WJHG. “I come and I feel honored and I feel safe and that I belong, but now I feel like I’m defending myself.”

The Warrior Beach Retreat is a veterans organization that has been sponsoring retreats for the past six years to offer wounded warriors and other injured vets a place to relax and heal, WJHG reported.

The vets were staying at the Lake Town Wharf Resort, which is where students in the fraternity Zeta Beta Tau from the University of Florida and Emory University were staying for spring break.

Cope said she received an apology letter from the president of the University of Florida, who said he has launched an investigation into the incident, according to WHGF.

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Zeta Beta Tau’s UF chapter president, who was staying at the resort at the time, also apologized, saying the fraternity is cooperating with the university and has suspended the operations of the chapter until the investigation is complete.

“The behavior of some students who attended this event was out of line, and we apologize on their behalf for the behavior they exhibited,” the apology said, according to MyPanhandle.com.

“We appreciate everything that you have done for our country and we assure you that the service that you have provided to the United States of America is unparalleled and is honored with the utmost respect.”

UPDATE: Emory University issued the following statement Thursday:

“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.”

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Tom Tillison


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