Attorney/veteran feeds fellow heroes, gives legal advice in Collier County

A Florida-based attorney is doing his best to make sure our nation’s heroes are fed in our region. He hosted a special dinner for hundreds of Southwest Florida veterans. And he also offered free legal help to any veteran there who needed it.

Attorney Harvey Cohen hosted a steak dinner at Veterans of Foreign Wars in Collier County for over 250 veterans Saturday, some former prisoners of war during World War II, who all now live in Southwest Florida.

“Veterans helping veterans,” Cohen said. “We’ve done a lot of this kind of stuff in the past. We just kind of want to help people understand all the rights that we have.”

MORE: The Veterans of Foreign Wars

Veterans at the event spoke to us and shared some words about their experiences when they served, a reminder of the sacrifices they made.

“Our team got to fire the Missouri one day, 16 shells, and it was quite an event,” veteran Pappy Wagner said. “And my best buddy was killed.”

Wagner was a POW during WWII, and he said events like this make Southwest Florida stand out.

“We don’t know what we got here, really,” Wagner said. “And this town is great. You might go home to somewhere else and your house is gone. But it’s really great.”

Veterans like Wagner and veteran Wayne Smith depend on their fellow servicemen to keep going.

“I was shot down in 1968, repatriated in 1973,” Smith said.

Smith is a Vietnam prisoner of war survivor. He spent five and a half years in solitary confinement.

“We found so many different ways to communicate,” Smith said.

These days, Smith lives in Naples, and he was among many who were able to enjoy a meal served to them by fellow veteran Cohen.

“We need to help the people who have helped us,” Cohen said. “Without these guys, we wouldn’t be standing here today.”

A lot of the focus is on insurance claims for those veterans who sought legal advice from Cohen, as some veterans who live here may still have damage from Hurricane Irma.

Cohen is also a veteran himself, and he wants to give back to the war heroes in our community.

Every veteran walked away from the event with a pamphlet to help them with legal rights. They’re also enjoying some free steak.

The post commander told us the VFW has never been more packed than it was during the weekend event. According to U.S. Census Bureau, over 28,000 veterans live in Collier County alone.

“God bless the USA,” Smith said.

Reporter:Gina Tomlinson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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