Disrespectful and a disgrace - that's how military veterans who called NBC12 On Your Side for help described two tattered flags flying outside an apartment building established specifically to help homeless veterans. Following our original report, two new flags are up, thanks to generous donors.
NBC12 looked into complaints about an old, torn, American flag and P.O.W. flag. The tattered flags were taken down first thing next morning.
NBC12 called Virginia Supportive Housing. It runs the veterans' home on Chamberlayne Avenue in Richmond, Va. VSH is embarrassed and says it's not reflective of the great work it does for homeless veterans.
When the American flag becomes worn, faded, torn and soiled, flag etiquette dictates it be retired and disposed of in a respectful ceremony.
"It doesn't speak well of the people you know that died for that," said military veteran Willis Taylor, Jr.
That didn't happen here, residents say, until NBC12 got involved. Residents at the Veterans' Home on Chamberlayne Avenue say tattered flags have flown outside their home since last summer, despite complaints from them to Virginia Supportive Housing.
"One postal worker, she was just aghast by it. She said, 'I can't believe they're letting the flags fly like this,'" said Taylor.
According to its website, Virginia Supportive Housing puts a roof over the heads of 521 veterans across Central Virginia, South Hampton Roads and Charlottesville, linking America's military heroes to critical services and housing. Without this type of help, many veterans would likely die on the streets.
Taylor supports VSH but dislikes tattered flags flying.
"The organization has done well by us individuals who stay here. Their mission, I believe, is sound, but I'm not pleased by it at all. I served the flag.
It represents the country," said Taylor.
NBC12 called the non-profit and its Executive Director Allison Bogdanovic took immediate action. When NBC12 interviewed her, a brand new America flag had been installed on the flag pole.
"When I drove by last night, I wasn't very happy. I was definitely embarrassed," said Bogdanovic.
A maintenance crew removed the damaged flags and took them to the non-profit "Veterans of Foreign Wars" for proper disposal.
"The real travesty is that we have veterans who are experiencing homelessness in Virginia," said Bogdanovic. "Again, we're very sorry if this has caused offense, and it's our goal that tattered flags won't fly here."
VSH says it was in the process of replacing the flags before NBC12 called. Veterans say they are just glad it’s done. Looking at the fresh American flag flying, Military Veteran Eric Brooks says: "Actually, I think that's beautiful. We served our country. We sacrificed our lives and it's good to have some kind of recognition of what we've done."
Following our report, an NBC12 viewer reached out to us to see how she could contact the non-profit to donate a P.O.W. flag.
"It tugged at my heart, because I love our country. I love our flag. I love our veterans, and this obviously meant so much to them that they came to Channel 12. I felt I wanted to do something to correct that," said Lisa Boyle.
"We certainly know that we need to take a look at our processes and make sure that we have backup flags on hand to put up as soon as these get to a point where we need to take them down," said Chris Edwards with Virginia Supportive Housing.
VSH says it has great appreciation for its veteran residents and this won't happen again.
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