OPINION: Donald Trump Doesn’t Care About Veterans

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OPINION: Donald Trump Doesn’t Care About Veterans

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//MOLLY HOUSER//

When presidential candidate Donald Trump won the election in 2016 I was disappointed, but not surprised. Despite every flaw, Trump has the ability to captivate and persuade voters. To me, it was no wonder he was able to win the election. His slogan, “Make America Great Again” drew people towards him, and he knew it. Trump quickly became a beacon of hope for voters: a disparity in the unproductive norms of our government. Throughout his campaign, he promised voters a better America, and to undo the so-called damage previous presidents created. One of the key selling points of his candidacy was his endless promises to improve the care of veterans. But, as Trump enters his second year in office, he has failed to live up to his promises but has instead insulted them with his consistent apathy.

The sad reality is clear: Trump is indifferent to veterans. He made empty promises in order to secure more votes. Our veterans deserve better.

On Oct. 3, 2016, Trump was asked about approaches he wants to follow on preventing suicide among veterans. He claimed, “we’re going to be addressing the rates very strongly, and the whole mental health issue” (Washington Post). Flash-forward to the 2018 Veterans Affairs National Suicide Data Report, reveals that the VA found suicide rates has remained unchanged since 2005 (Veterans Affairs). In two years of office Trump has been unable to fulfill his promise of reducing the number of suicides. According to the same report, on average 20 veterans commit suicide a day.

Contributing to mental health problems, Trump has yet to decrease wait times for health care as promised. Trump recently claimed that the heartbreaking stories of veterans waiting for days for health care has ceased, but this is the farthest from the truth (Kessler). In 2018, veterans reported wait times to be as long as 70 days (Government Accountability Office). Veterans are not getting the immediate care Trump touted. There is no reason wait times should be so long, especially when the suicide rates are heartbreakingly high.  

In addition to not living up to his promises, Trump has demonstrated his apathy through his poor actions. While in France, Trump had the opportunity to attend a ceremony honoring the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. He did not attend because of “scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather.” It was raining. In Washington DC on Veterans Day, he canceled another pre-scheduled visit to Arlington Cemetery, a mere 12-minute drive from the White House. This time he cited that he was “extremely busy on calls for the country” (Hoellwarth). Trump was incapable of handling a little rain and sacrificing a round of golf to honor veterans.

When former Senator John McCain passed, Trump sent out a presidential proclamation, honoring him as a war hero and thanking him for his service. Just kidding, that never happened. Instead of following the respectful tradition, Trump tweeted his sympathies to the family. AMVETS National Executive Director Joe Chenelly put it best: “It’s outrageous that the White House would mark American hero John McCain’s death with a two-sentence tweet, making no mention of his heroic and inspiring life,” (Hoellwarth). Trump claimed that McCain was only a war hero because he was captured: “heroes don’t get captured,” (Roberts). As President of the United States, Trump is obligated to honor veterans. His position would never have existed without them.

The list of Trump disrespecting veterans could go on and on. But perhaps Trump never intended to help veterans, and only claimed he would in order to gain political clout. Clearly, Trump does not stand for veterans. But he is persuasive and manipulative, and Americans fell for Trump’s mirage. Trump demonstrates that he does not care about veterans with his outlandish comments and incompetent actions. He might claim he is “Making America Great Again,” but he is forgetting the people who fought for her. He once said that he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone and not lose voters” — the same would remain true if the person shot was a veteran.

 

CITATIONS:

“Here’s What Donald Trump Said about Veterans and PTSD.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 10 Mar. 2016.  www.washingtonpost.com/video/politics/heres-what-donald-trump-said-about-veterans-nd-ptsd.

 

“VA Releases National Suicide Data Report.” U.S Department of Veterans Affairs. 18 June. https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/

 

Kessler, Glenn. “Anatomy of a Trump rally: 70 percent of claims are false, misleading, or lacking evidence.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 12 Sept. 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/09/12/anatomy-trump-rally-percent-claims-are-false-misleading-or-lacking-evidence

 

“Veterans Choice Program.” Government Accountability Office. 20 June. 2018. https://www.gao.gov/assets/700/692271.pdf

 

Hoellwarth, John. “AMVETS Calls on White House to Show McCain Proper Respect.” AMVETS. 27 Aug. 2018. http://amvets.org/amvets-calls-on-white-house-to-show-mccain-proper-respect/

 

Roberts, Rachel. “Donald Trump declares national prisoner of war day despite saying “I don’t like people who are captured.” Independent. 8 April 2017. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-declares-national-prioner-of-war-pow-day-insults-john-mccain-heroes-dont-get-captured