A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Vice President meets Iraq war veteran Marine Cpl. Matthew Bradford during tax, trade talk in Versailles

By C. Nate Swope
Special to NKyTribune

VERSAILLES, Ky. – Retired Marine Corporal Matthew Bradford might be blind, but the Iraq War Veteran said he sees his state soon becoming the best for veterans.

Bradford, who also lost both legs to a 2007 IED-attack on a foot patrol in Haditha, now leads a growing grassroots movement for Congressman Andy Barr’s sixth congressional district in Lexington.

“There’s more than 330,000 veterans living in Kentucky,” Bradford said. “We made this coalition to bring us all together and create a direct channel for vets to communicate with Congress. Not all representatives do this.”

Retired Marine Corporal Matthew Bradford meets Versailles firefighter Z. Yeary. (Photo by C. Nate Swope)

“Every single way that we can make it better for Veterans, we’d be crazy not to do it,” Governor Matt Bevin told reporters Wednesday at More Than A Bakery with Vice President Mike Pence. The former Army 5th Infantry Division captain is “a big believer that this is the very least we owe to men and women who’ve given everything to our nation.”

“Corporal Matthew Bradford’s story inspires us all,” Vice President Mike Pence said. “The spirit that animated his life, in a very real sense, is the same spirit that the people of Kentucky embody and the people of this country embody, the American spirit.”

Bradford meets monthly with the coalition to keep constituents informed about local and national issues. His quarterly town halls have attracted celebrity speakers such as Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Trey Gowdy.

But it’s Bradford who veterans usually cram the house to hear. From President Trump to Defense Secretary Mattis, world leaders are inspired by his story.

After reenlisting, Bradford redeployed to the site where he was injured with Operation Proper Exit.

Vice President Mike Pence spoke in Versailles about tax and trade. (Photo by C. Nate Swope)

“It was kinda cool to go back.” He said. “But that trip was bigger than me. It was about showing how resilient we Marines are.”

After leaving the Corps in 2012, Bradford became a national security fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives wounded warrior program. And he graduated last year from University of Kentucky with a Bachelor’s in Media Arts and Studies.

“Matthew, to me, is a hero and an inspiration,” Bradford’s supervisor Anthony Allen said. “He stands for a new generation of veterans who are assimilating back into society. And he continues to be such a great inspiration to those of us who have so much more and still find less in our lives. What a great man.”

Bradford coined a phrase that he stamps on his coalition’s Facebook page: #‎NoLegsNoVisionNoProblem‬.

“That attitude…” Allen said. “That is something to follow.”

C. Nate Swope is a former US Marine sergeant recently relocated to Northern Kentucky.

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See these NKyTribune stories about Matthew Bradford:

Matthew Bradford loses sight and legs, but not hope

Matthew Bradford to be guest at State of the Union.

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