Veterans have come to the forefront of the 2016 presidential election.
Not very publicized prior to the GOP convention, Medal of Honor (MoH) recipient Dakota Meyer (Navy SEAL) endorsed Senator Ted Cruz; MOH recipient U.S. Air Force Col. Leo Thorsness, U.S. Marine Jay Vargas, and others, filmed a video for Jeb Bush.
Then, Navy SEAL and Navy Cross recipient Marcus Lattrell’s appeared at the GOP convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 19, 2016. His impassioned remarks included:
To the next generation, your war is here, you don’t have to find it. Who among you will love something more than you love yourself? I challenge all of you to fight for this country and each and every one of us.
On the other side of the political aisle, Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Army Capt. Florent Groberg, (Ret.) and U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen (Ret.) spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 28, 2016
Regardless of how you might feel, Donald Trump came out early for veterans. He raised over $6 million at a fund raiser in January 2016 and sent checks to at least 40 different veterans charities. He also provided a three-point plan for veterans on his website.
And Hillary Clinton announced her plan which would “create a culture of accountability, service and excellence”. The plan was also placed on her website.
However, Dan Caldwell, vice president for political and legislative action at Concerned Veterans of America, announced that his group was “glad to see that Secretary Clinton now acknowledges the serious problems” at the VA “after originally downplaying them last fall.” He was disappointed that Ms. Clinton
did not outline a vision of reform for the VA which would greatly expand health care choice for veterans and increase accountability for employees guilty of misconduct.
Then things got in an uproar when Khizr Khan, father of Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient Captain Humayun Khan who was killed in Afghanistan, blamed Trump at the Democratic Convention, saying his ban on “all Muslim immigrants and his corrosive remarks about Mexicans had encouraged a certain minority of Americans.” Trump immediately tweeted a reply then a battle between them ensued immediately.
MoH Recipient Dakota Meyer tweeted to Trump,
If @realDonaldTrump wants to be the Commander in Chief, he needs to act like one. And that can’t start until he apologizes to the Khans.
With respect to politics, Meyer originally supported republican candidate Senator Ted Cruz but has declined to discuss any endorsement of Trump.
U.S. Army veteran J.R. Martinez was severely wounded in an improvised explosive device while serving in Iraq in 2003, resulting in “severe burns to 34 percent of his body.” He wrote a 1000 word letter to Trump that provided an interesting idea about politics not previously discussed by anyone. His belief:
I’m a firm believer that politics should be kept out of our military and that our military should be kept out of politics.
One thing is for sure: veterans will continue to publicly support their candidate until one of the contenders is elected president.
Let the fireworks continue!