Grocery store, USO rewards woman for bringing awareness about veterans

By: Erica Bryant , WSOC-TV

Updated:

CONCORD, N.C. - A veteran was rewarded Friday for bringing awareness to those who have served their country.

Rebecca Hayes got a warm welcome at Harris Teeter in Concord.

The USO presented her with coins of accomplishment and the store gave her gift cards, which she promptly donated.

“I'd like to give back to my veteran community and doing that by giving this back to veterans in need,” Hayes said.

Friday was quite different than her last trip to the store when someone left a negative note on her car parked in a space reserved for veterans.

“This parking is for veterans, lady,” the letter read. “Learn to read and have some respect.”

Hayes served in the U.S. Navy for eight years.

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She fired back at the unknown author on social media and tagged the grocery chain.

“I didn't do this for myself and so I got fed up, so I responded,” she said.
 
That response went viral and now she's being honored for raising an issue that struck a cord with people.
 
“If you see someone in a vet’s lot or handicapped lot, don't assume they are not because so many of our veterans have invisible wounds of war,” John Falkenbury, USO North Carolina.
 
Hayes says at first, she was frustrated and disappointed by the incident and now she's encouraged by all the positive responses.

“I think we like to say it's 2016, there's no racism or sexism but it shows don't judge people before we take the extra time to think,” she said.

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