Veterans accuse UF frat members of peeing on US flag

PANAMA CITY, Fla. --- Accusations made by veterans who took part in the Warrior Beach Retreat at Laketown Wharf resort have led to apologies from two separate universities.

Both the University of Florida and Emory University have issued public apologies regarding fraternity behavior in Panama City Beach last weekend.

Former military members accuse Zeta Beta Tau members of spitting on them and peeing on an American Flag, according to WJHG TV in Panama City.

Veterans told News Channel 7 that the acts of these college students were disrespectful to them and their country.

"They actually spit on me and my service dog as well, and that's just so disrespectful and it hurts," said wounded veteran Nicholas Connole to reporter Kelly Baumbarten. "I come and I feel honored and I feel safe and that I belong, but now I feel like I'm defending myself."

Connole wasn't the only veteran offended by the actions of the college students.

"They're a total disgrace for our military," said Warrior Beach Retreat founder Linda Cope. "They were urinating on the American flag they were throwing things off of the balconies."

Both the University of Florida and Emory University are conducting investigations into the incident.

University of Florida president W. Kent Fuchs issued the following statement to Cope:

Dear Linda,

I am writing to let you know that I am deeply concerned about the reports I have received of inappropriate and offensive behavior involving Zeta Beta Tau students staying at the Laketown Wharf Resort in Panama City Beach this past weekend.

The incidents and behavior you and others have described in emails and phone conversations, the disruption to the Warrior Beach Retreat, and the offense to the wounded warriors and other guests are unacceptable. We are pursuing an investigation of the matter to learn more about the involvement of University of Florida students and whether disciplinary action will be needed.

As this investigation continues, and without knowing the full extent of what transpired, I want to make clear that I am deeply sorry for the affront that our students may have caused. Having visited the Warrior Beach Retreat website and learned about the service and bravery of your son, Joshua; the love and compassion of his wife, Erica; and your own tireless efforts on behalf of our wounded veterans, I can only imagine the pain and indignity of enduring this behavior. I want to assure you that it is not representative of our students or our university, and we will make every effort to learn more, take appropriate action, and prevent similar incidents from occurring again.

Please don't hesitate to reach out to me or Dave Kratzer, our vice president of student affairs, with any further information or concerns. You may reach me at president@ufl.edu or (352) 392-1311; Mr. Kratzer at kratzerd@ufl.edu or (352) 392-1265.

Sincerely,

W. Kent Fuchs


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