To the editor:
I would like to express my gratitude to be alive and my sincere appreciation for having the opportunity be able to live in such a wonderful paradise as General Robert E. Lee County, named after an American hero, and a community that takes pride in our heroes in the United States Armed Forces with veteran memorials and events honoring our soldiers; a community which honors our first responders, police and fire; and a community that shows outstanding support for our veterans; and with the development of an outstanding Military Museum by the Cape Coral Veterans Foundation; and all the outstanding veteran service organizations.
This county and community have an excellent history of support for our veterans and military and the cause of freedom. From the historic museum located on Useppa Island dedicated to the Cuban people for their efforts in the "Bay of Pigs" CIA Operation for the cause of freedom, and the naming Fort Myers after a hero, a Confederate Jewish Colonel, and a positive integration history with minorities such as Native Indians and African Americans, our community positively embraces diversity.
It is my belief Lee County is an honorable and supportive society of freedom and love for others.
So, it is with much enthusiasm, that I would like to express my personal feelings and request your support to help our most deserving veterans and military. I humbly ask our elected officials in Lee County to consider exempting disabled veterans from local fees or taxes specifically surrounding a recently passed Ordinance 28-13, (4-29-2013), Cape Coral "Public Service Tax," however, other fees such as bridge toll fees for crossing bridges from Cape Coral to Fort Myers; LeeTran; county or city parking fees and parks and recreation fees to use parks or any other county or local government fees should also be considered. The U.S. Government and State of Florida exempts most disabled veterans from these fees; however, local fees do not exempted disabled veterans or veterans. For example, state car license tags are free for 100 percent disabled veterans; however, the City of Cape Coral charges these veterans $10 with an administrative fee. The Florida driver's license is free for 100 percent disabled veterans and again the City of Cape Coral administrative fee is charged. The federal and state usually does not charge a disabled veteran entrance fees, however, the local or county parks such as Lover's Key and Barefoot Beach charge fees to the disabled veteran. In fact, federal National Parks do not charge the disabled veteran any entrance fees and provide a lifetime pass to him and four family members.
And, then there are some private companies like Home Depot which give discounts to veterans, which is an outstanding gift and healing process for our veterans when honored in such a manner. I am sure there are other local fees charged to disabled veterans and I will continue to research areas where the disabled veteran pays fees and the state and federal governments does not charge fees to the disabled veteran.
While this request may seem small, it has more to do with honor and respect for those who have given us a gift of love which is or was to sacrifice their time or moments in life in desolate and dangers lands facing possible death and their life moments away from family and friends to fight to protect us from peril. With some voices clamoring for increases in minimum wages, we should reflect on these soldiers who work 24/7 for low wages but with a strong desire to protect our families and community without question and sign a blank check on their lives to protect each of us. An exemption for these soldiers would be a small gift for a job well done by these soldiers of honor.
I humbly and respectfully submit this request to our elected officials with the love for our country and community for consideration to exempt veterans and/or disabled veterans from these type of fees. I am not a hero who was honored with medals. I am just a soldier who did his duty and was injured. I request your consideration and action to exempt all disabled veterans and/or veterans from these fees. "De Oppresso Liber", my friends, county, city and country. My God bless you in your deliberations.
Jack A. Mattachione
US Army Medically retired,
100 percent disabled veteran,
Former 5th Special Forces Group Airborne