Anti-war message spray-painted on water tower at VA Medical Center

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It is the place where sick or struggling veterans can turn for help, but this week, a controversial message showed up at the Robley Rex VA Medical Center in Louisville.

The message came in the form of anti-war graffiti, recently painted on a water tower at the medical center. The veterans, who are in recovery at the VA, had a surprising reaction to the message.

"Feels like kind of a slap in the face," said William Benson, a U.S. Army Veteran.

Benson and some of his fellow military veterans noticed the message Monday morning.

"From inside, where we eat, you can see through the window what was spray-painted up there," Benson said. "I think everybody has a right to express their feelings or their opinion."

Benson was in the 101st Airborne Division, the 187th airborne regiment. He was stationed in Saudi Arabia, and he doesn't mind the message and neither do his fellow vets.

"A lot of these soldiers, sailors, marines, air force people ... that's what they fought for," he said.

But Benson does not agree with how and where the message was presented.

"Everybody has a right to do that, but you don't get a right to violate government property," he said.

Martin Traxler, director of the VA Medical Center, said the anti-war message was left outside a live-in dorm for veterans who suffer from PTSD and other issues. So he has a message, or maybe a reminder, for the person who painted the tower.

"The majority of those veterans, they didn't make the decision about when and where they would serve. They just answered the call to duty," Traxler said. "So the most important thing they can have is a calm environment. And this is a place where they should come to feel honored, not shown disrespect by anyone."

And despite the message, Benson is still glad he answered his country's call.

"When you are in the military, you go where you are told. So whether it's the chow hall or Saudi Arabia or the Middle East," Benson said.

"I'll never feel bad about my service."

Right now, officials at the medical center are in the process of having the graffiti removed. Meanwhile, the head of security is working with LMPD and also looking at surveillance video, hoping to find out who painted the water tower.

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