By Anne Alden, USN 1975-1985, Honorably Discharged
On this Veterans Day in 2019, I feel that I must voice my opinion as a Veteran, who is also married to a retired Disabled Veteran, regarding our present administration. I have been thinking about it for weeks now. This opinion will only be about Trump’s relationship with military members, veterans, and allies.
Trump dodged the draft 5 times, with a note from a doctor who lived in one of Fred Trump’s buildings that said he had bone spurs. He played tennis as others took his place in line for Vietnam, others who did not have rich daddies or a lack of honor. He refers to those who went to Vietnam as Losers. He once said that “his Vietnam” was that he did not catch any STDs during that time. He denigrated War Hero Senator John McCain by saying he preferred heroes “who didn’t get caught”. He vilified a Gold Star family, which is absolutely disgraceful and cruel.
He could care less about Veterans.
In a recent court case, he admitted that the Trump Foundation STOLE $2.8M from a fundraiser for veterans that he held during his 2016 campaign, putting every dime towards his campaign. Yet he continued to tell everyone what a great thing he did for veterans, until he got caught. The organization, forced to close by the State of New York for fraud, was fined $2M.
He has LIED over a HUNDRED times that he was the one who enacted the Veteran’s Choice Program, a program that hopefully makes it a little easier for veterans to get health care in a local center. That is a LIE. President Obama signed it into law in 2014. It works for some, can be improved for many others.
He repeatedly tells the American people that he has “fixed the VA”. The Veterans Administration has 50K job openings. The funding has been authorized by Congress, yet for some reason, his administration will not fill these vacancies. Veteran suicides average around 6K a year, which is tragically about the same rate over the past ten years, but now they are killing themselves on VA campuses after they do not receive the treatment that they desperately need. He has allowed 3 Mar-a-Lago cronies to play with the management of the VA because of their donations to him. Things are not any better. The VA’s policies continue to be to push addictive drugs, and to deny treatment to Veterans who do not want to become addicts. A whistleblower office was set up. It has been used to pursue the whistleblowers instead of fixing the problems they point out.
Trump places our Active Duty Military in danger through his chaotic policies.
Trump cozies up to dictators and autocrats, while distancing our allies. Military members overseas are in more danger because the options for safe harbor with allies is being diminished. You have to be an ally to have an ally. His administration is complete chaos with changing policies day to day, even hour to hour. Even with the top brass in place, he can still seriously disrupt situations as exampled with his recent actions regarding Syria.
He meekly relented to the Turkish dictator on a phone call and betrayed our Kurdish allies on a whim. He told Turkey to go ahead and attack as they please and then the word was passed to our troops to get out of the way. He placed our Special Forces in a serious compromised position. They were told to pull back quickly and temporarily, and believing they were returning soon, left their bases intact. The official word that they were not going to return to the area was not given for 3 days, which is why you see Russian troops (our adversaries, not our friends) enjoying the food and beds of our installations. These forward bases are normally destroyed as standard procedure when leaving. Hundreds of Kurdish fighters who fought, and died by the thousands, by our side in the fight against ISIS, and their families including little kids and babies, were killed through his reckless decision.
When the ISIS leader was killed soon after, due to direct intelligence from our former Kurdish allies, he thanked Russia first, then Turkey, then Iraq, then everyone else, before mentioning the Special Forces who actually risked their lives in the operation. Thereafter when he bragged about it, he claimed it as his victorious deed. He portrayed it like he was actually on scene, being such a tough guy.
In 2018, when North Korea complained about our joint military exercises with South Korea (held since 2011), he actually canceled them so as not to irritate his new friend. A friendship that he brags about, but which has produced nothing but an emboldened NK with just as many, if not more, nuclear weapons. Pointed at us and our allies. He allowed this cruel dictator, who starves, imprisons, tortures, and kills his citizens on a regular basis, to fly his flag next to our flag on the world stage, legitimizing his regime. A subdued exercise was held in 2019.
Trump views Active Duty Military members as stage props.
Trump sent thousands of troops to our southern border during the 2018 holiday season to promote his “Emergency at the Border” reality show. These members were in the States, taking well-deserved time between combat campaigns overseas to be with their families and trying to regain a bit of normalcy. He originally wanted our military to shoot anyone coming over the border but was told no since it is against the law. They sat there, for months, during the holidays, as visual aids.
He wanted a huge military parade for the 2018 Veterans Day on the Washington Mall. One that resembled France’s Bastille Day Ceremonies. Tanks, missiles, war planes, big stuff! All to celebrate HIS powerful military might. This meant thousands of members marching along on the one day of the year that is dedicated to them for their personal sacrifices, including millions of dollars in equipment, all coming out of the military budget. He was told the tanks would destroy the Mall’s road surface, and because of the huge amount of backlash from Veterans’ groups nationwide, he gave up on the idea. (Active Duty Military are not allowed to criticize their Commander-in-Chief) Until Independence Day, and then he got his war plane flybys.
Trump considers the Military Budget as his personal piggy bank.
Trump lied many times, saying that he gave the military a 10% raise, and that they had not seen any raises in decades. He said,”..you just got one of the biggest pay raises you’ve ever received … You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years — more than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one. I got you a big one.” Lie. The military has received an annual pay raise every year for over 30 years. The pay raise ranges from 1 percent to 2.4 percent.
Trump wants $5M out of the Military budget, money that is meant for housing and schools for military families, to build his wall. This budget is currently held up in the Senate. The Republicans tell the talking heads that the military pay raise is in jeopardy, sure to scare those who depend upon it, but it is not true, the pay raise is secure. The bill is being held up because of the $5M that Trump wants to take from military families.
Active Duty Military cannot trust that they will not be placed into harm’s way by a President who operates on a whim and whether something makes him look good. Would you make that sacrifice? Would you want your loved one to make that sacrifice?
If you are, were, or love someone who is or was a military member, you should take all of this into consideration. Please.