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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fort Thomas Vet Finds Himself in National Spotlight After Firing Controversy

Rick Heilman. Source//WSMV
Fort Thomas native, "Chief" Rick Heilman, found himself in the national spotlight after his employer in Fayetteville, Tennessee fired him for replacing a tattered flag in front of the store where he worked. Read the original story, from WSMV in Nashville below:

Decorated Navy veteran Rick Heilman noticed last week that the American flag flying in front of the tractor supply store where he worked was tattered and worn.
So he approached his manager at Yearwood Equipment Company in Fayetteville, Tenn., about an hour and a half south of Nashville, and asked about replacing it.
“I said, ‘Hey, the flag is pretty torn up out front. Do we have another one to replace it?’ And he pretty much bluntly told me no,” Heilman told WSMV-TV in Nashville. “I said, ‘OK, can we take it down until we get a new one?’ And he again repeated, ‘No.’”
Heilman went home disturbed. “It bothered me all weekend,” he told WSMV. “The right thing to do was take it down. And I should have taken it down on Friday.”
“I took it down this morning,” Heilman told WSMV on Tuesday. “And then I folded it up properly the way it should be.”
That’s when trouble began.
Heilman said his manager was upset at his actions, noting he bought a new flag over the weekend and that Heilman should have waited.
“He said, ‘You’ve not followed my instructions, and you’ve disrespected my authority and therefore you’re fired,’” Heilman told WSMV.
WSMV said it visited the store to talk to the manager, PD Shelton, and conduct an on-camera interview; Shelton declined, citing employee confidentiality.
But Shelton did note that Heilman’s firing wasn’t related to him taking down the flag.
“He said, ‘You’re being fired for not following instructions, not because you took the flag down,’” Heilman told WSMV. “Well, the instructions he gave me were not viable. Too often, we, as society, have come to a point where we see something is wrong, we know that it’s wrong and it’s easier to just shake our head and walk away than it is to confront the problem.”
Heilman spent 22 years in the Navy as a chief diver then retired so he could spend more time with his wife and two daughters.

Now, with the help of Fox Business Network’s Cheryl Casone, Ret. Navy Chief Petty Officer Rick Heilman is hopeful he’ll find a new job soon.
Heilman and his boss at Yearwood Equipment Company in Tennessee engaged in a confrontation after the vet properly removed a ripped flag.
He was offered his job back, and his former boss acknowledged that the flag should have been replaced sooner. But Heilman, who doesn’t regret taking the flag down, refused to go back.
In less than a week since his first Fox and Friends appearance, Heilman has already interviewed for new jobs.
Casone said, “I saw the segment on Friday… and I was so inspired. And I thought this is what I do. I’m going to get this guy a job.”
She explained that for many vets, the translation of military skills to corporate America is getting lost.
“It’s tough to try and get out there and… help is greatly appreciated,” Heilman said.

He stressed that the company he left behind in Fayetteville, Tenn. does a lot of good for the community and should not suffer because of his experience.
Update II

When Googling Rick's story, I came upon a comment he left on a recent FTM story. It looks like Rick's values are firmly in tact. His comment:

"We are witnessing the loss of a landmark that is near and dear to alot of us. I was there for Smitty's 50th and pushed for him to be Grand Marshall for the 2008 4th parade. Since then Brian and Dave have stepped up and kept this iconic Barbershop alive. You could always count on the window being painted in support of Highlands sports and getting the latest info on what was going on around town while waiting for a haircut. On more than one occasion I got drawn into a story or lead out for a beating while I don't know maybe a Catholic priest was hidden under the hair cloak. I may no longer live in town but always try to stop in when I am to get a cut and chew the fat. 31 December will be their last day in the current location so if you got the time stop in get a cut, chew the fat or just give Brian and Dave a hard time for me. Brian Akers and Dave thanks for keeping it going and good luck to you in the New Year!"

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