Ahead of Trump’s remarks, here are his most offensive comments about veterans and their service to our country:
Merely a month after launching his campaign, Trump disparaged Senator John McCain and prisoners of war generally, saying “I like people who weren’t captured” — and (true to form) never apologized for the remark dismissing McCain’s sacrifice.
In June, Trump accused U.S. troops of stealing money earmarked for rebuilding Iraq.
In late July, Trump attacked a Gold Star military family after the parents of slain Muslim American Army Captain Humayun Khan spoke at the Democratic National Convention. Trump’s attack on the Khan family earned swift condemnation from Republicans and Democrats, but he pressed on and continued to publicly attack the family.
At an August rally, Trump minimized the sacrifices of Purple Heart recipients saying, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.” Trump has also been dismissive of the experience of deployed soldiers, claiming those engaged by IED attacks, “go for a little ride upward and they come down.”
Trump has disparaged veterans, attacked their families, avoided service and advocated for policies that are bad for veterans–such as his desire to partially privatize the VA, a policy opposed by an overwhelming majority of veterans.
Trump will undoubtedly speak about his love of veterans today, but his disrespect for the men and women who have served our country, coupled with his erratic policy positions, makes him a dangerous and unfit option for Commander in Chief.
Trump Repeatedly Lied About Giving Money To Veterans Charities
- Trump lied for four months, claiming that he’d raised and given $6 million to veterans charities — including $1 million of his own money. When he got caught, he finally paid up, but was even then still short of the $6 million. It turns out veterans aren’t the only group that Trump’s short-changed on promises to contribute money, according to a Washington Post analysis of Trump’s broken charitable donation promises.
Trump’s Plan To “Fix” The VA: “A Little Bit Of A Free Market Thing.”
- Trump’s plan to reform the VA is both simple and simplistic: “A little bit of a free market thing.” Does that mean outright privatization or perhaps voucherization? Hard to say from that, but a Trump adviser has previously signaled Trump’s possible support for privatization. Either way, it’s clear that Donald Trump has no idea what he’s talking about and wants to work against veterans’ own wishes, because almost two-thirds of veterans oppose privatization and a majority are opposed to having their health care system voucherized.
Trump Accused U.S. Servicemembers Of Stealing Money Earmarked For Rebuilding Iraq
- From June 14, 2016: “How about bringing baskets of money – millions and millions of dollars – and handing it out? I wanna know, who are the soldiers that had that job? Because I think they’re living very well right now, whoever they may be.”
Trump Said Soldiers In Humvees Hit By IED Detonations “Go For A Little Ride.”
- Can’t make this one up. Trump in February: “2,300 brand new up-armored Humvees, I talk about it all the time…the best in the world…Armor plated, top, bottom, all over, if a bomb goes off our wounded warriors–instead of losing their legs, their arms, worse, they’re okay. They go for a little ride upward and they come down.
Trump University Scammed A Veteran Out Of $26,000
- Felicisimo Limon, a retired Navy veteran of 40 years, invested in real estate courses through the now defunct ”Trump University”. Limon–caught in the Trump U racket– says he didn’t gain any useful knowledge about real estate and was the victim of constant pressure from instructors to always pay more than he’d already spent on courses. Limon eventually lost more than $26,000 on the worthless courses.
Trump Opposed The Current GI Bill
When Asked If He Supported The Current GI Bill, Trump Responded: “No. I Want To Bring Jobs Back To Our Country. I want To Make Our Country Go Again.” Interview. Chris Cuomo: Do you support maintaining the GI bill the way it is right now and even growing it as opposed to cutting it? Donald Trump: I don’t want to be hurting our vets. Our vets are hurt enough. We treat illegal immigrants better than we treat our vets. So I’m going to do nothing to hurt our vets, I’m going to only help our vets. […]Cuomo: So is that a, ‘Yes, I do support the current GI bill?’ Trump: No. I want to bring jobs back to our country. I want to make our country go again.” [CNN, New Day: 5/9/16]
- Post 9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act Of 2008 Provided Educational Benefits To Individuals Who Served On Active Duty On Or After September 11, 2001. According to U.S. Army, “President Bush signed the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008 on June 30. The new law mirrors the tenets of the original GI Bill, which gave returning World War II veterans the opportunity to go to any school they wanted while receiving a living stipend, Bob Clark, the Pentagon’s assistant director of accessions policy, said. […] The new GI Bill is applies to individuals who served on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, and offers education benefits worth an average of $80,000 – double the value of those in the previous program. It covers the full costs of tuition and books, which are paid directly to the school, and it provides a variable stipend for living expenses. It’s also transferable to family members of career servicemembers. […] The variable stipend is based on the Defense Department’s basic allowance for housing for an E-5, which averages about $1,200 a month, and $1,000 a year will be paid directly to the servicemember for books and supplies, he added.” [U.S. Army, 7/29/08]
Trump Called John McCain “Not A War Hero” Because He Was Captured, Refused To Apologize
- Trump On John McCain: “He’s Not A War Hero Because He Was Captured. I Like People Who Weren’t Captured.” “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” [Donald Trump, Family Leadership Summit, Ames, IA, 7/18/15]]
- Trump On Whether He Owed McCain An Apology, 2015: “No, Not At All.” According to CNN, “Asked by ABC News whether he owes McCain an apology, Trump said: ‘No, not at all.’ ‘People that fought hard and weren’t captured and went through a lot, they get no credit. Nobody even talks about them. They’re like forgotten. And I think that’s a shame, if you want to know the truth,’ Trump said Sunday. ‘People that were not captured that went in and fought, nobody talks about them. Those are heroes also,’ he said.” [CNN, 7/18/15]
Trump Claimed That John McCain Had “Done Nothing To Help The Vets”
- Trump On John McCain: “He’s Done Nothing To Help The Vets.” “”I’m very disappointed in John McCain, because the vets are horribly treated in this country. I’m fighting for the vets. I’ve done a lot for the vets. He’s done nothing to help the vets. And I will tell you, they are living in hell.” [“This Week,” ABC, 7/19/15;]
- PolitiFact Rated Trump’s Claim About McCain’s Record On Veterans “False.” [PolitiFact, 7/21/15]
John McCain Criticized Trump’s Comments As An Attack On American Heros Who Were Captured And Called On Trump To Retract His Statement
- John McCain: When Trump “Said ‘I Don’t Like People Who Were Captured’ There’s A Great Body Of American Hero’s Who Would Like To See Him Retract That Statement.” According to Military Times, “Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump took heavy criticism over his treatment of veterans this weekend from Democrats and his own party. ‘What he said about me, that’s fine,’ McCain said. ‘I don’t require any repair of that. But when he said ‘I don’t like people who were captured,’ then there’s a great body of American heroes that would like to see him retract that statement.’In a Sunday interview on CNN, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., expressed serious concerns about Trump as the next commander in chief, particularly in light of comments he made last fall mocking McCain for being captured during the Vietnam War. […]Trump has repeatedly denied that his comments were a slight to prisoners of war, and maintained that veterans know he has the utmost respect for those who served in the military. McCain disagreed. ‘I think it’s important for Donald Trump to express his appreciation for veterans, not John McCain, but veterans who were incarcerated as prisoners of war,’ he said.” [Military Times, 5/9/16]
Trump Said Soldiers That Were Not Captured “Get No Credit” Compared To P.O.W.s
- Trump, 2015: “People That Fought Hard And Weren’t Captured And Went Through A Lot, They Get No Credit.” According to CNN, “Asked by ABC News whether he owes McCain an apology, Trump said: ‘No, not at all.’ ‘People that fought hard and weren’t captured and went through a lot, they get no credit. Nobody even talks about them. They’re like forgotten. And I think that’s a shame, if you want to know the truth,’ Trump said Sunday. ‘People that were not captured that went in and fought, nobody talks about them. Those are heroes also,’ he said.” [CNN, 7/18/15]
Trump Claimed He Had Sacrificed As Much As The Family Of A Fallen War Veteran, Humayun Khan
- The Father Of A Fallen Muslim US Solider Criticized Trump In His Speech At The DNC, Saying “You Have Sacrificed Nothing And No One.” According to CNN Politics, “Khizr Khan, whose son, Army Capt. Humayun Khan, 27, died from a suicide bombing in Baghdad 12 years ago, said that if Trump is able to follow through on his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country, his late son never would have been able to come to serve the country in the military. The Khans, a Muslim family, immigrated to the United States from the United Arab Emirates. ‘Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America — you will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities,’ he said. ‘You have sacrificed nothing and no one.’” [CNN Politics, 7/29/16]
- Trump Claimed He Made Sacrifices For This Country By Providing “Thousands And Thousands Of Jobs.” According to The Wall Street Journal, “Responding to Mr. Khan’s contention in the speech that Mr. Trump had ‘sacrificed nothing and no one,’ Mr. Trump, on ABC’s ‘This Week’ Sunday, cited the ‘thousands and thousands of jobs’ he created as examples of his sacrifice. He then ignited another furor by saying Mrs. Khan perhaps ‘wasn’t allowed to have anything to say’ onstage at the convention.” [Wall Street Journal, 7/31/16]
- Trump Claimed He Made Sacrifices For The Country By Employing Workers And Helping To Build The Vietnam Memorial In Manhattan. According to The Denver Post, “‘How would you answer that father,’ Stephanopoulos pressed. ‘What sacrifice have you made?’ ‘I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices,’ Trump said. ‘I’ve worked very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs …’ ‘Those are sacrifices?’ Stephanopoulos asked. ‘Sure. I think they’re sacrifices. I think when I can employ thousands and thousands of people, take care of their education, take care of so many things,’ Trump said. ‘Even the military. I mean, I was very responsible along with a group of people for getting the Vietnam Memorial built in downtown Manhattan, which to this day people thank me for.’” [Denver Post, 7/31/16]
Trump Said He “Always Wanted To Get The Purple Heart” Award
- After Trump Was Presented With A Veteran’s Purple Heart Award, He Said “I Always Wanted To Get The Purple Heart,” And That This Way Was “Much Easier.” According to Washington Post, “At a campaign event in Virginia on Tuesday, Trump tried to mend any damage he’d done with members of the military in an unusual way: He accepted a Purple Heart from a veteran in the audience. ‘Something very nice just happened to me. A man came up to me and he handed me his Purple Heart,’ Trump said. ‘I said to him, is that the real one, or is that a copy? He said, ‘That’s my real Purple Heart. I have such confidence in you.’ And I said, ‘Man, that’s big stuff.’ ‘I always wanted to get the Purple Heart,’ Trump continued. ‘This was much easier.’ The Purple Heart is given to those serving in the armed forces who are wounded in combat. Trump never served in the military, though he once said that he ‘always felt that I was in the military’ because he went to military school.” [Washington Post, 8/2/16]
As A Businessman, Trump Repeatedly Protested New York’s Special Vendor Privileges For Veterans
- Trump, 1991: “While Disabled Veterans Should Be Given Every Opportunity To Earn A Living, Is It Fair To Do So To The Detriment Of The City As A Whole Or Its Tax Paying Citizens And Businesses?” According to the Daily News, “‘While disabled veterans should be given every opportunity to earn a living, is it fair to do so to the detriment of the city as a whole or its tax paying citizens and businesses?’ Trump wrote in a 1991 letter to John Dearie, then-chairman of the state Assembly’s Committee on Cities. ‘Do we allow Fifth Ave., one of the world’s finest and most luxurious shopping districts, to be turned into an outdoor flea market, clogging and seriously downgrading the area?’ Trump demanded. New York’s original peddling exceptions for veterans date back to 1894 — created to give those disabled during the Civil War a chance to support themselves.” [Daily News, 8/3/15]
- 2004: Trump Complained To Michael Bloomberg About Vendors On Fifth Avenue And Opposed Special Vendor Privileges For Veterans; Said “Whether They Are Veterans Or Not, They [The Vendors] Should Not Be Allowed To Sell On This Most Important And Prestigious Shopping Street.” According to The New York Post, “Donald Trump blasted conditions on Fifth Avenue as ‘deplorable’ in a letter to Mayor Bloomberg complaining about street vendors who are ‘rapidly destroying’ the street’s ambience. The letter, addressed ‘Dear Michael,’ accuses vendors of pretending to be military veterans so they can peddle their wares on the high-rent street. Special regulations give veterans more leeway than other vendors. Trump said he inquired of one vendor – who displayed hats and shirts bearing Trump’s trademark phrase ‘You’re fired’ – which war he had fought in, but the vendor smiled and said, ‘Mr. Trump, I am too smart to fight in a war.’ But Trump favors no special peddling privileges for veterans, either. ‘Whether they are veterans or not, they [the vendors] should not be allowed to sell on this most important and prestigious shopping street,’ The Donald wrote. […] Trump said building owners and tenants are ‘forced to clean up all the discarded debris’ when the vendors leave – and the stores are ‘complaining bitterly.’ ‘Frankly, I have no idea how they can be doing business with the mess they have outside their front door,’ he wrote. ‘Fifth Avenue’s comeback is going to be a short one if this situation is not corrected immediately.’ Trump implored the mayor to act quickly or the city’s reputation will falter. ‘The image of New York City will suffer,’ Trump wrote. ‘I hope you can stop this very deplorable situation before it is too late.’” [New York Post, 6/18/04]
Trump University Settled A Lawsuit In Which Former Employee Corinne Sommer Alleged She Was Fired For Being In The Military
- Former Trump University Staffer Corinne Sommer: “I Was Fired Became I Was In The Military.” According to The Huffington Post, “Iraq War veteran Corinne Sommer is not allowed to talk about the settlement she reached with Trump University after she was fired in 2007. But in a deposition first made public on Tuesday, Sommer said she believed the real estate seminar provider terminated her because her military commitments as a reservist interfered — a little — with her work as an events planner for the company. ‘I was fired because I was in the military,’ she told attorneys as part of an unrelated fraud case against Trump University. ‘At the end of my [performance] evaluation, they wrote that it was a problem that I was in the military.’ Sommer was an Army staff sergeant who had deployed to Iraq in 2003.” [Huffington Post, 6/01/16]
- Sommer And Trump University Settled Her Lawsuit Over Wrongful Termination And Age Discrimination. According to The Huffington Post, “In her employment lawsuit, Sommer recalled, she accused Trump University of firing her because of her military commitments and of discriminating against because of her age (she was in her early 20s at the time). She said she ’won’ her case when the company agreed to settle with her, rather than go to trial. ‘They found that there was probable cause enough to settle,’ she said. The exact resolution of the case is covered by a ‘confidentiality provision,’ Trump U’s lawyer noted in the deposition.” [Huffington Post, 6/01/16]
Trump Institute Fired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Richard Wright When He Was Deployed To Afghanistan
- Trump Institute Fired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Richard Wright Because Of “All Of Your Absences” Caused By His Deployment To Afghanistan. According to The Huffington Post, “A few months before Sommer was fired from Trump University in 2007, another veteran, Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Richard Wright, was fired from his job as a mentor at the Trump Institute, an affiliate of Trump University. Wright had just returned from a deployment to Afghanistan when his bosses told him that ‘all of your absences’ had forced the company to ‘reevaluate your position with the Trump Institute.’” [Huffington Post, 6/01/16]
A Federal Court Ruled That Trump Shuttle Violated The Veteran’s Reemployment Rights Act When It Refused To Rehire Charles Beattie, A Colonel In The U.S. Air Force Reserve
- Trump Shuttle Refused To Rehire Colonel Charles Beattie After His Company Was Bought Out By Trump While He Was On Leave To Fulfill A Military Service Commitment. According to Huffington Post, “.As required by law, Eastern Airlines granted Charles Beattie a leave of absence to fulfill his military service commitment. While Beattie was deployed to the Industrial College, a high-flying Donald Trump, just 42 years old, bought Eastern Air for $365 million. […]As part of the deal Trump signed with Eastern for the shuttle service, Trump was required to offer employment to all Eastern personnel. All told, Trump Shuttle hired around 200 pilots from Eastern Air. But it did not hire Beattie. According to a judicial opinion in Beattie’s 1990 lawsuit against Trump Shuttle, the new company insisted that all pilots be available to start work on Feb. 1, 1989. Beattie had applied for a job with Trump Shuttle, like the rest of his fellow Eastern pilots, but his orders from the Army college required that he stay until June to complete his assignment.” [Huffington Post, 6/2/16]
- 1991: In A Memorandum Decision The District Court Of D.C. Ruled That Trump’s Refusal To Rehire Charles Beattie Constituted A Violated Of The Veteran’s Reemployment Rights Act. According to the court’s decision, “For the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that Trump’s refusal to hire Beattie violated 38 U.S.C. § 2021(b) (3) of the VRRA, and it will grant Beattie’s motion for partial summary judgment and deny Trump’s motion for summary judgment. An appropriate Order accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.[Memorandum Opinion, Charles W. Beattie v. The Trump Shuttle, United States District Court, District Of Columbia, Civ. A. No. 90-1160, 3/5/1991]
Trump Said he Did Not “Have The Guts” For Military Service, Bragged About Avoiding the Draft
- Trump On Military Service, 1995: “I’m A Financial Warrior; I Don’t Have The Guts To Do This Stuff.” According to Daily News, “Trump did not serve in the military. ‘I’m a financial warrior; I don’t have the guts to do this stuff,’ he said.” [Daily News, 11/11/95]
Trump Bragged About His “High Lottery Number,” “Student Deferments” And “Foot Thing” That Kept Him Out Of Vietnam
- Trump Said He Felt “A Little Guilty” For Not Serving In Vietnam Because Of His “Foot Thing.” “I love the country. I’ve seen what it can do. I didn’t serve. I haven’t served. And frankly I had deferments because of college, like a lot of people did – numerous deferments because of college and I had a foot thing and I got a deferment for that. At some point I probably would have — I was also in the draft and I got a very high number. I think it was 356. Can you believe that? We’re in the middle of the Vietnam War and I had a very, very high draft number, almost at the end. In fact, I got in about four numbers late and they kept calling numbers, numbers, numbers. I said ‘Oh, I guarantee my number must have been one of those early numbers.’ But it turned out – that was one of the, look, that was a rough war. […] So what happened is I always felt a little guilty and I was always, like other people, frankly, that didn’t serve – because I had people that did serve and I have friends who served and they’re very proud of it.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Waterville Valley, NH, 12/1/15]
- Trump On Why He Didn’t Serve In Vietnam: “I Was Going To College, I Had Student Deferments. I Also Got A Great Lottery Number.” [Imus In the Morning, 5/11/16]
Trump Received Five Deferments From Military Service, Four For College And One For Alleged Heel Spurs
- Despite Being An Avid Athlete In College Who Played Football, Tennis, Squash And Golf, Trump Received A “Coveted 1-Y Medical Deferment” The Fall After Graduating From College For Alleged Bone Spurs. According to New York Times, “Back in 1968, at the age of 22, Donald J. Trump seemed the picture of health. He stood 6 feet 2 inches with an athletic build; had played football, tennis and squash; and was taking up golf. His medical history was unblemished, aside from a routine appendectomy when he was 10. But after he graduated from college in the spring of 1968, making him eligible to be drafted and sent to Vietnam, he received a diagnosis that would change his path: bone spurs in his heels. The diagnosis resulted in a coveted 1-Y medical deferment that fall, exempting him from military service as the United States was undertaking huge troop deployments to Southeast Asia, inducting about 300,000 men into the military that year. The deferment was one of five Mr. Trump received during Vietnam. The others were for education.” [New York Times, 8/1/16]
- 2016: Trump Claimed The Bone Spurs Were A “Temporary” And “Minor” Malady, But Had Not Yet Provided Records Of The Letter That Allowed Him To Obtain A Medical Deferment. According to New York Times, “In an interview with The New York Times last month, Mr. Trump said the bone spurs had been ‘temporary’ — a ‘minor’ malady that had not had a meaningful impact on him. He said he had visited a doctor who provided him a letter for draft officials, who granted him the medical exemption. He could not remember the doctor’s name. ‘I had a doctor that gave me a letter — a very strong letter on the heels,’ Mr. Trump said in the interview. Asked to provide The Times with a copy of the letter, which he had obtained after his fourth student deferment, Mr. Trump said he would have to look for it. A spokeswoman later did not respond to repeated requests for copies of it. The Selective Service records that remain in the National Archives — many have been discarded — do not specify what medical condition exempted Mr. Trump from military service. Mr. Trump has described the condition as heel spurs, which are protrusions caused by calcium built up on the heel bone, treated through stretching, orthotics or sometimes surgery. Mr. Trump said that he could not recall exactly when he was no longer bothered by the spurs, but that he had not had an operation for the problem.” [New York Times, 8/1/16]
Trump Trivialized Vietnam, Saying He Had His Own “Personal Vietnam” With STDs And Dating
- Trump Said Because Of STDs Dating Was “My Personal Vietnam. I Feel Like A Great And Very Brave Soldier.” “I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world. It is a dangerous world out there — it’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam era. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave solider.” [Howard Stern, 1997]
- Trump: “We Have Our Own Vietnam. It’s Called The Dating Game.” “You know, if you’re young, and in this era, and if you have any guilt about not having gone to Vietnam. We have our own Vietnam. It’s called the dating game.” [Howard Stern, 1993]
- Trump: “Dating Is Like Being In Vietnam. You’re The Equivalent Of A Soldier Going Over To Vietnam.” “Donald Trump: It’s pretty dangerous out there Robin. It’s like Vietnam. Howard Stern: It is, it is. The dating scene is like Vietnam. Trump: Dating is like being in Vietnam. You’re the equivalent of a soldier going over to Vietnam.” [Howard Stern, 1993]
Trump Veterans Outreach Missed The Mark, Was offensive To Veterans
- Trump Tweeted A Photo Of Soldiers Coming Ashore And Wrote “Remembering The Fallen Heroes On #DDay – June 6, 1944.”
The Photo Included In Trump’s Tweet Was Not Of D-Day, But Of A Training Exercise.
- Getty Images: “Reaching The Shore” Photo Was Taken In 1943 And Depicted Troops During A Training Exercise. According to Getty Images, “Reaching The Shore Credit: Keystone / Stringer Editorial #: 3315110 Collection: Hulton Archive1943: Troops coming ashore during training exercises for the Allied D-Day invasion. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)” [Getty Images, 6/6/16]
[Getty Images, 6/6/16]