President Donald Trump was present at the New York City Veterans Day parade on Monday. During the event, the president was simultaneously cheered and booed by those in the audience, the New York Times reported.
If turning an event designed to promote what should be a non-partisan affair into a political one seems uncouth, it’s worth thinking about what this president really represents to veterans who actually served in the U.S. military. Trump has been no friend to those in uniform, except when it has served his purposes. Conversely, he’s derided those who oppose his policies, even taking digs at their time serving this nation.
Take, for example, Trump’s qualms with the late Sen. John McCain. As a candidate for president, Trump belittled McCain’s service. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured,” Trump said, to the dismay of many at the time. (Their feud lasted long after that, up to and after McCain passed away.)
Retired Army General Stanley McChrystal, in 2018, brought about his own misgivings about Trump, based in part on his comments toward McCain. “The fact that he would be dismissive of the kinds of service that people like John McCain and others have given is also disturbing…I don’t think it builds up the kind of trust that military people depend upon,” McChrystal said.
The retired general’s comments make sense: if Trump feels that way about McCain, it stands to reason he also doesn’t think highly of others who were prisoners of war or missing in action.
You can guess what happened next. Trump laid into McChrystal on Twitter. “General McChrystal got fired like a dog by Obama,” the president said earlier this year per reporting from CNN, adding that the retired general had a “big, dumb mouth.”
But Trump’s attacks haven’t been limited to well-known generals or senators. He’s also been insensitive to the families of soldiers. During a call with Mysehia Johnson, whose husband Sgt. La David Johnson died in Nigeria, Trump forgot his name, the widow said. He also told her that Johnson “knew what he had signed up for.”
Just a reminder on Veterans Day: We are still blocked by Donald Trump. https://t.co/91vQDmW6Mj
— VoteVets (@votevets) November 11, 2019
Trump later disputed the allegations of the call, Politico reported, saying he had proof that she had mischaracterized what he had said. That proof never came about.
Trump has hurt military families in other ways. He removed $3.6 billion from the military budget in order to pay for the construction of an unnecessary border wall between the United States and Mexico.
The re-appropriated funds took away needed funding for a dilapidated middle school on a military base for children of those in service. It also took away funds for firehouses on such properties, flight simulators for those in the Air Force, clinics, dining halls, and road projects that would benefit military family bases and other compounds across the nation, Newsweek reported.
His actions as commander-in-chief had put military personnel in harm’s way for future missions as well. After the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last month, Trump described several details about the operation and its immediate aftermath of gathering evidence at the scene of the operation, which experts said gave our enemies insights of what the military’s modus operandi is during such events.
Then there are the donations to various charities Trump has promised to make over the years, but has stiffed on several occasions.
Trump has promised to give to several foundations, many of them military- or veteran-based. He gave $1 million during the 2016 campaign, which is commendable. But that donation only came about after scrutinizing news reports were published, detailing that he had promised but rarely gave to such groups in the past.
In one such example, Trump promised to give a certain amount of proceeds from his Trump Vodka sales to a veterans’ group. The person in charge of that nonprofit said they received “a few hundred dollars,” the Washington Post reported.
Trump also suggested proceeds from a book he had written, “Crippled America,” was going to go to such groups. “I’m giving [profits from sales] away, to a lot of different — including the vets. ’Kay?” Trump said in 2015. Donations were scarce, if existent at all.
Trump talks up a big game when it comes to “supporting the troops.” But little of what he does (as president or in his private life) demonstrates he’s actually helped them, presently or in the past. His actions may also bring harm to them in the future.
Our vets deserve a president who promotes their causes, looks out for them in the field, and takes care of their families back home. This president, however, doesn’t deliver on any of those fronts.