Some veterans across the country and here in Lancaster County are appalled by the latest attempt to discredit President Donald Trump. In a recent article in The Atlantic magazine, unsubstantiated claims from anonymous sources indicated that the president made disparaging remarks about our fallen heroes.
The remarks were purported to have been said at the time Trump was to visit a military cemetery in 2018 in France to honor fallen veterans. These claims are part of a story, discredited by some, regarding the reason why the president was not able to visit.
Witnesses put forth by the White House, even including some of the president’s critics, attest to the fact that the visit was called off due to bad weather. It is apparent that people will say and do anything to try to derail the president’s reelection, but we reject using veterans as pawns.
We believe this president has done more for veterans than any president in a generation. The previous administration seemingly left the military depleted and a Veterans Administration plagued by backlogs for veteran benefits and health care. However, under Trump the military has been rebuilt and soldiers are cared for and respected.
Here are just a few examples:
President Trump signed the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 to authorize $2.1 billion in additional funds for the Veterans Choice Program, so that veterans can receive the quality health care they deserve by having the option of going to a private provider to avoid long waits at the VA.
The Trump administration created a new White House VA Hotline, staffed by veterans and family members. And it secured a record $8.6 billion in funding for mental health services, with the goal of ending the tragedy of veteran suicide.
The Trump administration also has created the PREVENTS initiative, a task force aimed at unifying the efforts of government, businesses and nonprofit groups to help our veterans.
The president signed the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, the VA Mission Act (to ensure veterans have the quality of life they deserve) and the “Forever GI Bill,” which provides greater opportunities for education.
In 2019, Trump signed a memorandum that eliminates 100% of student loan debt for permanently disabled veterans and called upon states to ensure that veterans do not pay state tax on their forgiven debts.
And Trump secured $73.1 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs — the highest funding for the VA in history and a 3.1% pay raise for service members, the largest increase in a decade.
How do these tangible actions square with the vitriol from unnamed sources? They don’t, unless there is an election coming up. It would not be surprising if the president’s opponent or his opponent’s campaign had something to do with The Atlantic article being published.
Why? Perhaps to cover for the poor record of the Obama/Biden administration on military and foreign affairs — from the VA debacle to leaving the military depleted. Even Robert Gates, who served as Secretary of Defense under Obama, wrote in his memoir that Biden has “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
It is important for voters to know that veterans in their community support the president because he supports the military and veterans.
We know better than to put faith in “unnamed sources” from media outlets bent on disparaging the president any chance they can get, especially during an election.
Bob Abel, U.S. Army
Rick Armellino, U.S. Air Force
Bill Arms, U.S. Army
Gibson E. Armstrong, U.S. Marine Corps
Ray D’Agostino, U.S. Navy and U.S. Army (Republican Lancaster County commissioner)
Scott Edgell, U.S. Army
Frank C. Fryburg, U.S. Navy
Fred Geiter, U.S. Navy
Doug Hiepler, U.S. Army
Jessika Hiepler, U.S. Army
Burnell Hostetter, U.S. Air Force
Richard L. Kephart, U.S. Marine Corps
Robert L. Kilp, U.S. Navy
William Latsha, U.S. Army
Larry McHenry, U.S. Air Force
Joshua G. Parsons, U.S. Army (Republican Lancaster County commissioner)
Alfred Peinhardt, U.S. Navy
Eric Schimp, U.S. Navy
Don Smith, U.S. Air Force
Stan Snyder, U.S. Army National Guard
David Thorton, U.S. Navy
James Vollrath, U.S. Navy
C.S. Westheaffer, U.S. Navy