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Trump View of Veterans:“Suckers” and “Losers”

by J. Michael Atherton

The New Hampshire Republican platform says Republicans: “Respect New Hampshire’s honored veterans by ensuring that they receive the benefits they have rightfully earned and deserve, particularly by combating homelessness and making all medical facilities available to qualified veterans.”

Both Democrats and Republicans support this message, without qualification. Honor veterans, especially those killed, wounded, or missing in action. We must take care of those who took care of us.


While you and I honor them, Donald Trump does not. Trump doesn’t honor veterans. He doesn’t respect them. He doesn’t even understand veterans.

Then Chief of Staff John Kelly stood in for the former president at a WWI Anniversary ceremony in France in 2018.

Rather than holding veterans as exemplars of bravery and sacrifice, Trump calls them “suckers”. Nominee Trump insulted Gold Starred heroes at the Republican National Convention. President Trump refused to visit America’s military graves in France because Trump saw our dead armed forces as “losers”.

These shocking revelations came from John Kelly, who was Trump’s longest serving White House Chief of Staff and one of his closest confidants. Trump went out of his way to praise Kelly, a rare occurrence for Trump, and because it was rare it adds credibility to Kelly’s words. Kelly clearly lived as a trusted member of Trump’s inner circle. To this day Kelly remains a staunch Republican.

Chief of Staff Kelly, therefore, had many opportunities to gather these damning comments. Republican Kelly opposes his own party’s interest when he reveals the Republican front-runner’s tawdry view of wounded, dead, and missing veterans. Therefore, Kelly gets nothing from revealing these truths, that is, except for his sense of integrity. He speaks as a veteran who values country over a man. So, when Kelly tells us that President Trump looked at the graves in Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day and asked, “I don’t get it. What’s in it for them?” you can take it to the bank.

Arlington Cemetery - Department of Defense

These statements and many more like them occurred at the very time Trump was President of the United States and Commander in Chief.

It continues. Trump has suggested General Mark Milley, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, should be executed. Trump called President George H. W. Bush and Senator John McCain “suckers” for being shot down. These two men followed orders and came close to death defending our country; nevertheless, the President of the United States of America, Donald J Trump, mocked them. His shameful comments were not a one-off, slip of the tongue. Trump voiced them often and loud enough for Kelly and others to hear and recall for us.

Their repetition reveals Trump’s real thoughts. Trump’s own words tell us he should never again become Commander in Chief. When Trump belittles those he would command, he may speak with candor; however, his honesty also reveals a man fundamentally unfit for the Presidency. Veterans should treat Trump as he treats them: with no respect and without honor.

About the author

J. Michael Atherton (Mike) has retired from 30 years of teaching philosophy (after 20 years of teaching a variety of subjects from elementary to graduate school). He spent four years in the Peace Corps in Swaziland (now Eswatini), followed by marriage to Cynthia Walter, the birth of their first child, and a PhD all at the University of Chicago. They moved to Southwest Pennsylvania where Cynthia taught ecology and he taught philosophy while they raised two daughters. They moved to Dover in 2019 to be near their two grandsons in Maine. He has consistently found the Dems to be a group that publicly and privately follows their stated values: compassion, honesty, integrity, respect the dignity of all people, expanded freedom, responsible citizenship, promoting civil society, and protecting our environment. And they are great fun to be around. A winning combination!

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