Combat Veteran To Donald Trump: Stop Using Us As Props
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Combat Veteran To Donald Trump: Stop Using Us As Props

If Donald Trump likes veterans so much he'll skip today's debate for them, why does he donate more to the Clintons than to us?

Donald Trump’s use of veterans as human shields to cover his fear of Megyn Kelly is his latest, and most pathetic, attempt to leverage vets’ causes for his own political gain. Instead of joining the other candidates on stage Thursday night, Trump is holding his own event at Drake University to raise money for veterans.

The Donald wants to sell us on the idea that his pettiness is actually a demonstration of civic virtue (probably the most virtuous demonstration you’ve ever seen by any politician as “big” as Mr. Trump), because he obviously cares more about our troops than about politics.

Much like the cheap, Chinese-made Trump ties on the sale rack at Macy’s, we’re not buying it. One veterans’ group, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, has already announced it will not accept any proceeds from Trump’s event. The group tweeted that veterans need “strong policies from candidates, not to be used for political stunts.” Other veterans’ groups are following suit.

Judge Trump’s Actions, Not Words

As Trump frequently reminds us all, he has amassed a net worth of $10 BILLION DOLLARS (he likes the caps, according to Forbes) in his business career—a career begun after he received four separate education deferments, then a medical deferment, allowing him to sit out the Vietnam War while his fellow countrymen served.

He received four separate education deferments, then a medical deferment, allowing him to sit out the Vietnam War while his fellow countrymen served.

And how much did the Trump Foundation donate between 2009 and 2013 to the veterans’ causes he is apparently so passionate about? $57,000. By comparison, in 2009 alone his foundation gave $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. When compared to Donald’s massive wealth and public willingness to throw money at politicians of all stripes, the value of the Trump Foundation’s donations to vets is equivalent to the cost of an expensive toupee.

Worse, in 1991, Trump lobbied to clear vendors , including those run by disabled veterans (some of whom, no doubt, became disabled while Donald dodged the war), from Fifth Avenue in the vicinity of Trump Tower, lest it become an “outdoor flea market.” Now that disabled veterans are politically convenient for Trump, however, he trots them out in front of the crowd at his campaign events so we can all witness his magnanimous spirit.

We’re Not Stray Puppies You Can Adopt

Donald seems to think “helping veterans” is like walking down to the Humane Society and adopting a stray puppy. We’re not stray puppies, and we definitely don’t appreciate being used as pawns. Frankly, most veterans just want leaders who back up their words with actions, are willing to fix the problems at the Veterans Affairs, and will support our brothers and sisters who are deployed in combat.

Donald wants to use veterans to protect him from feeling even a little bit uncomfortable in front of Kelly.

While Trump’s petulant protests and plans for a “special event for the troops” dominated the headlines yesterday, Army veteran Barry Coates quietly passed away—the victim of the VA’s indifference. Coates died of cancer because it took him more than a year to get a routine colonoscopy at a VA hospital. His treatment came too late, causing real suffering and death. But Donald wants to use veterans to protect him from feeling even a little bit uncomfortable in front of Kelly.

Donald, America’s vets know what “makes America great.” We’ve seen it in the selfless actions of the men and women we’ve served with in combat zones. Your attempt to use those sacrifices as leverage for your own political gain is the antithesis of what makes America great.

Donald Trump is no friend of veterans, and his recent embrace of veterans’ causes for political convenience is his most insulting stunt yet. My fellow veterans and I know it, and it’s past time that the American public knew it too.

James Hasson is a former Army captain and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. He is currently a first-year law student at William and Mary Law School.
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