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Hometown Love

I grew up in Southampton, Massachusetts near Hampton Ponds. The kids in my neighborhood were called “Pond Scum” by others, and eventually we decided that it was a term of endearment. I walked to Mahoney’s package store to buy candy with babysitting money, attended the Primary School before it was the town hall, and William E. Norris until sixth grade. After that, I went with all the other Southampton kids to Hampshire Regional High School, and graduated in 1992. After I turned twenty-one, I fell in love and married a marine, Roger Adams, and we moved to North Carolina. He was from Greenfield.

My husband, Roger, was born in Montague, Massachusetts, and lived in that area until after his graduation at Franklin Technical High School. His trade was carpentry. After high school, he decided to move to Kentucky to spend time with his mom and siblings down there. It didn’t take him long to realize he wanted to serve his country, so he joined the marines at the closest recruiting center that happened to be in Tennessee.

Roger and I lived for years in North Carolina, near his duty station which was Camp Lejeune. After he was killed in Iraq in 2009, the boys and I remained in North Carolina, stunned and confused. In 2016, we moved back to my hometown of Southampton, Massachusetts to be close to family.

After we settled a bit and did some home repairs, I turned in my application for a survivor’s tax exclusion. The law is explained in this link: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/cis/cisvet/vetprptax.htm It tells about the different benefits given by Massachusetts to veterans, their families, and other survivors. They are quite generous, and before I left North Carolina, I budgeted accordingly. With the tax break, the boys and I would be able to financially make it, so we planned and packed.

Months after I applied for the exclusion which I was sure to receive, I found a denial letter in the mailbox, laughing at me. It stated that because Roger did not enlist in Massachusetts, his family did not qualify. My life in Massachusetts, and his entire childhood in Massachusetts did not count. After months of trying again and doing research, I was advised to appeal. I paid a hundred dollars to be heard by Boston.

Mid-July I had to go to court against my hometown in Northampton, Massachusetts. It was hot, but thankfully, sunny. I had never been to the courthouse so I put the address in my GPS and was on my way. It was only minutes from my house. I found a parking spot close to the entrance of the grand building, and used the ParkMobile app to pay. I gulped down the butterflies, channeled my inner imitation strength, and walked into the building. I waited in line to go through the metal detectors. I took off my shoes and Roger’s dog tags I wore for luck, and gave the guard my phone and bag. Then, after a few wrong turns, found some people going to the Superior Courtroom One, so I followed them like an orphaned chick.

The room was grand with a painted ceiling and wood everywhere, and a nice man sat next to me. He was on the docket as well for what seemed like a silly waste of time. We shared our stories in condensed versions, and were each other’s cheering section. It was nice to simply have company. His turn came and went, then several others, then Southampton was called. It was my turn.

I attempted to prove Roger’s domicile which is a sensitive term in this case. I explained how Roger was born here, went to school here, and graduated here. He turned 18 in Massachusetts, got married in Massachusetts, and the boys and I were in Southampton, Massachusetts when we were notified of his death. I wrote a page to read to the court, and it was received with gentle thanks and remarks by all.

The commissioner asked if I or Southampton had anything else to say, and I was done, but the town had one more thing to add. He said how they talked to an attorney about the case, and apparently because of the way the law is worded, we do not qualify for the tax break. The commissioner took the attorney’s name.

They talked to an attorney. They really didn’t want me and the boys to have this break. I don’t know why but that part hurt the worst. They put great effort into making sure we didn’t get this break. I don’t know what the verdict will be, but I do know that we will leave as soon as we can. Even if we win, we feel unwelcome. When we leave, we will feel like we are escaping. We learned the lesson that home is not a tangible thing.

This is the last paragraph of my court statement:

In closing, I must make the most important point as far as I’m concerned. When Roger was on a naval ship after 9/11 outside of the Middle East, he fought for America, not a specific state. When he was in Iraq in 2004-2005, he was a target and woke many nights to mortar attacks on their camp. He did that for America. When Roger woke me up in the middle of the night to simply be awake with him after his first tour in Iraq, he suffered that for America. When Roger drove his Humvee over an IED in 2009, killing him and three others, he did that for America. His heart was in Massachusetts, but he died for America.

33 thoughts on “Hometown Love”

  1. Great picture of the house! This is very powerful and needs to be shared! It is a crying shame that a Fallen Hero’s family is not being taken care…in THEIR birth state…in HER birth town. They have already sacrificed so much for America…and in doing so, for Southampton as well. Love you, Sister. ♡♡

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow I can’t believe what I am reading? Contact your senator this is typical local government bs. So sick of this stupid better than you attitude from government personnel

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Contact Elizabeth Warrens office in Springfield, also Richard Neal’s office…if the administrators in Southampton are trying to deny you this claim there are higher powers that can fight for you. Don’t let this tarnish your current opinion of Southampton or her residents and community, our town is made up of the people, the neighbors, the kids, the little league teams and the local businesses who support us and we them.
        I wish you and your kids success and happiness. We welcome you and your family. Fight this and win, then stay and don’t let them chase you away.

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  2. I am praying things go your way It is unbelievable that you and your family have to go through this. My husband also served in the US Navy in Vietnam and was sprayed with Agent Orange and has lung cancer and already had to have half of his left lung removed hopefully they will approve his disability but I guess we’ll have to hold our breath Don’t give up maybe God will help you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you find answers in the system somehow, and that your husband finds relief from his illness. Sorry you are dealing with that. I hope you have a good network of people who can read the confusing rules and laws.

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  3. I am so sorry for all that you have gone through. I also grew up in Southampton. The town is much different now in terms of just about everything. I think there are many people in town who support you and do welcome you though. At least I Hope that is true. I hope you win.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I would like to know who in our town government wants to deny these benefits to this family. My husband has lived here over 60 years and I over 50 years. This is the first time Ican say we are ashamed of our town government. This family gave the ultimate price of a father and husband for us. You should surely be ashamed of yourselves. Terry you are really welcome here. The town people are grateful for your sacrifice. Hope the courts will find in your favor.
    My husband is a veteran and member of Southampton American Legion . They should step in and try to help this family

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kathleen- I’ve been told that the town was approached about doing this for someone else not long ago and they took steps to get the issue in front of a town meeting (or whatever the procedure is). The family then declined to pursue it for some reason. Bottom line- the town government is probably not the roadblock here. Luckily there is a veterans advocate who sounds supportive.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is the first I have heard of this. When you say “the town was approached about doing this” do you mean changing it to a town vote? I was told that it would not go to the town for a vote because it was already decided. Also, is this something the family would have to be present for? Sometimes, life can be overwhelming. Possibly it was too much for them. I don’t understand why they would have to be present in order to resolve this. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I wonder who the family is. I would love to get in touch with them. It’s good therapy, also, to share stories. I appreciate your comment.

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  5. It’s not just inexcusable to deny the benefits, it’s morally outrageous for the town and the attorney to actively make a concerted effort to to everything possibly to deny the benefits. I grew up at Hampton Ponds as well and graduated HRHS 1982. I can recall consciously identifying that I was definitely a Southampton person, certainly not a Holyoker, despite that 532 phone number. As an adult, I am happier to say I live in Chicopee. Not a perfect place but apparently more respect for Vets than Southampton.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As a veteran with many years of active duty credit I would be interested in more detail about your specific issue. For many of these type of benefits the key is the entry on the service member’s official record called “Home of Record” (at least that’s what it was called in my day) which is usually the actual location (city and state) from where they departed for entrance to active duty; more specifically, from what point of origin did the USMC pay for Marine Adams travel expenses to report in for basic training. From your story it sounds as though the Home of Record in your husband’s official file is likely in Kentucky. Every state has their own laws regarding these sort of benefits and what Kentucky statute provides may not be the same or as generous as Massachusetts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Although this has not been mentioned in court or the town, I suspect it is the issue. I really don’t know if it’s in KY or NC or MA. I simply think the town people should decide whether or not to waive the two years in state. Thanks for your comment and mostly, for your service.

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  7. The law doesn’t appear to say ANYTHING about where enlistment happened, so that’s a BS reason for denying your application!
    However, it does say “Have lived in Massachusetts for five consecutive years immediately prior to filing for a property tax exemption,” so they could clearly use that to legally deny your claim seeing as you said you moved back here in 2016 – but once you’ve been back here 5 years you’d be perfectly eligible according to those rules!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It should be up to the town’s people, not the ones in the town hall. Good news though…Boston recently changed the law to two years and not five. That is wonderful for anyone who needs this break. Thank you for your comment.

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  8. Please talk to a Veterans agent. We have one in the west springfield town hall: I worked in the Assessors office and I do know our town adopted many benefits for veterans and their survivors. Please check this out

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am so sorry they can not see to change these laws…just not fair. I thank you for sharing your story, your life and Roger’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Like you growing up and being called pond scum really sucked,, I have been here my whole life , actually born in my driveway, I have been picked on many times by this town and feel often times because of being on the outskirts and not good enough that perhaps is the reason why. But I stay and have been here forever , it’s home . I hope you find a way to stay, Southampton is a great town to live and raise your children, and it’s your home . Yes it’s run by upper hands but this is your town not there’s . There’s a reason you returned to the place you love . I think this is where your husband wants you…. don’t leave feeling uncomfortable. This still being a small town the people who live here are wonderful and I welcome you back home . Where you belong!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I asked my mother about this. She’s been involved in town politics in Southampton since probably 1975. To her knowledge- and she attends almost all town meetings – this issue has not been brought up to the select board. I apologize if I am wrong about that . She also mentioned that the town has a veterans coordinator who is in first name is Jerry. Anyway the impression I got was that the leaders of the town would certainly be willing to listen to your situation and do what they can to help . I wish you the best of luck, and I am so sorry for your family’s loss .

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Teresa,

    It’s been forever and a day since we’ve seen or talked to one another but I remember you well from school, you were a year behind me. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss of your husband and about this situation. I moved away for many years and finally lived back home to Southampton 6 years ago. I thank God I did. Despite the red tape and what has happened I hope you are able to find a way to come back home…the town is so beautiful, the people are amazing and it really does heal the heart and fulfill the heart to live here with your children. Thank you to you and your family for all you have done for our country and for your sacrifices. I pray you will find a way.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Teresa

    We have mutual friends who have asked me to reach out to you. The system can be hard to navigate. Some things are mandated by the state and other things are “local options”. Not all small towns feel the same. Give me a call when you can.

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