Morning News â€” Leslie Mielke
Kenneth Finis Brown has spent more than 50 years working for veterans.
BLACKFOOT â€” Kenneth Finis Brown looks you in the eye and speaks of the sacrifices made by veterans to keep this country free.
"Patriotism is not dead," he said.
Brown has been working for veterans for the past 50 years.
Born in Peoria, Ill., in 1922, Brown is a World War II veteran, having served in the U.S. Navy as a gunner's mate from 1943-1945. He served on convoy duty.
Brown sailed the world, serving in both the Pacific and Atlantic theaters as well as in the Mediterranean.
At the end of WWII, he was part of the crew of the USS Missouri. On this ship, representatives of the United States and other Allied countries received the formal surrender of Japan on Sept. 2, 1945.
"War business is being overdone," Brown said. "We were justified in WWII because we needed freedom.
"Hitler was within six months of developing a nuke," he said. "If he had, there would be no London, no Liverpool.
"I don't want to talk about the war because I don't want to give people the impression that I think I won the war by myself," Brown said. "Just for the record, the Germans and the Japanese were good fighters.
"I think after serving the nation, veterans have an obligation to work harder for their fellow veterans," he said. "When you get out of the service, you realize the officer and the enlisted man both have one vote."
Brown has followed his own advice.
Settling in Nevada after the war, Brown worked to give veterans the right to hire an attorney for more than $10 to represent them before the Veterans Administration.
The case is called Walters v. National Association of Radiation Survivors. Walters was the administrator of Veterans Affairs.
[U.S. Army] soldiers were ordered out in the desert to be subjects of nuclear activity, Brown said. "As they became sick, they didn't have the right to be represented by an attorney who charged more than $10."
Title 38 U.S.C. Â§ 3404(C) limits to $10 the fee that may be paid an attorney or agent who represents a veteran seeking benefits from the Veterans' Administration (VA) for service-connected death or disability.
Appellees (two veterans' organizations, three individual veterans, and a veteran's widow) brought an action in Federal District Court claiming that the fee limitation denied them any realistic opportunity to obtain legal representation in presenting their claims to the VA, and hence violated their rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and under the First Amendment.
The District Court agreed and entered a nationwide "preliminary injunction" barring appellants from enforcing the fee limitation.
The fee limitation had been in effect since the Civil War, 1862 to be exact. The fee limitation was revoked 122 years later, in 1984.
Veterans now have the right to hire attorneysâ€”for more than $10â€”to seek benefits from the VA.
Brown also purchased 83.5 acres near Boulder City, Nev., to establish a veteran's cemetery in southern Nevada.
"It just needed to be done," Brown said. "To bury a veteran in a Veterans Cemetery, families in Nevada had to travel 240 miles one way to bury their veteran," Brown said. "That's almost 500 miles round trip."
There are so many veterans who live in Nevada, Brown said. The number of veterans and their families buried at the Veterans Cemetery in Boulder City, Nev., is second only to Arlington National Cemetery.
Any veteran who has received an honorable discharge can be buried in a veterans cemetery. His or her family can be buried there, also.
Brown has received numerous honors paying tribute to his 50 years of service to veterans and their families including the God & County Award from the United States Navy Armed Guard .. for heroism and vision in supporting veterans in Nevada.
Brown is known as "Mr. Veteran" in Southern Nevada.
Brown moved to the Blackfoot area in 2010.