BENTON, IL (KFVS) - Matthew Corey loves the military and wears military gear on most days as a way to show his support and to make sure those that fought for our country are never forgotten.
Matthew, 18, is autistic. His father Jeff Corey said he is in a world that he is uncomfortable with and is often over-stimulated.
“Matt is the most Patriotic person I have ever known. He has fallen in love with the military at a very, very young age,” Corey said.
Because of his handicap, Matthew is not allowed to join the military.
On Mother’s Day, Corey and his three kids were in Walmart when a man walked up to Matthew and verbally assaulted him, according to Jeff Corey.
"We were checking out in the self check out area. The guy just charged in front of us and went the self check out spot that we were headed. He said take that "S" word off. So that’s what upset me, I thought I upset a veteran, so it hurt me and I started crying," Matthew Corey said.
His 19-year-old sister Kristen Corey said she responded back to guy angrily.
When the family returned the car, they could Matthew was hurt more than ever. “We had turn around to see him crying and covering his face and after that, he started taking off his military stuff as soon as we were getting out of the car,” Kristen Corey said.
Corey said that was the third time he’d seen Matthew cry since he was a baby.
As a protective father, Jeff Corey was upset a stranger treated his son like that. “You were attacking not what my son was doing, but my son. That’s who he is.”
As a part of everyday identity, Matthew Corey did not want to wear the military gear another. He was more upset that he made a veteran upset.
“This has to stop,” Corey said. He posted on Facebook and got over 3,600 people to respond.
The post caught the attention of thousands of active duty military and veterans from around the world. They sent Matthew letters, gifts, badges, uniforms, and more.
“It made me feel special, like they actually appreciate the fact that I may be wearing the uniform, but I don’t wear patches in public I cover the patches up,” Matthew said.
The entire Corey family said they forgive that guy and just hope other can learn from this experience.
“Let’s accept one another for who we are, what we believe in, what team we root for, political affiliation. We are all just people, that’s it. Whether we are handicapped or not," Corey said.
Matthew recently graduated from high school and he and his family are exploring military-related options.