A Patriot Coal retiree says he's breathing a sigh of relief - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

A Patriot Coal retiree says he's breathing a sigh of relief

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"They promised me one thing and I promised them one thing.  I kept my promise," said Dennis Adkins, a retired United Mine Worker.  

Adkins is a retired heavy equipment mechanic for Patriot Coal.  

On June 9th of last year, Patriot filed for bankruptcy, leaving thousands of retirees wondering about their healthcare and pensions.  

"We were promised cradle to grave health care in 1947 by Harry S. Truman and John L. Lewis got it for us," Adkins said.  

Adkins invited me to Danville to talk about the issues that he and his former co-workers have been going though the past year.

He said, "Stress kills people, and I know and I feel within my heart that some of my friends have passed away since all of this has come about."

So, Adkins, along with other retired miners have been fighting for what he believes they deserve.

Adkins said aside from his service in the military, he's lived in Southern West Virginia almost his entire life.  

He said it's not his retirement benefits that he's worried about.  He's worried about his friends and co-worker's healthcare and pensions.

My concern is not for me, so much," Adkins said.  "It's about the ones who can't get out and do something, or have something to fall back on."

The UMWA said, in a statement, that the bill, which was introduced on Thursday, would provide significant care to retired miners whose healthcare is threatened.

Adkins agreed, recalling a little knowledge given to him years ago when he got his draft notice in the mail.

"My grandfather gave me some good advice," he said.  "I was going to go to Canada and dodge the draft.  He said I could either hold my head down or hold my head up.  He told me to do the right thing and you keep my head up.  I went to Vietnam and I served my country.  Now, we have to fight every step of the way to fight for what's promised to us."

Members from both sides of the political arena sponsored the bill that was presented Thursday.