How Much Does Donald Trump Support Our Troops, and Does It Matter?

Bringing receipts to the debate gets us closer to the truth

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Actions likely beneficial for military personnel:

  • He has increased military pay, such as by 3.1% for 2020
  • He signed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which included legislation created to end use of toxic military burn pits
  • He has expanded Pentagon funding every year, including seeking a $750 billion defense bill for 2020 and ultimately signing one for $738 billion
  • In 2017 he signed the Forever GI Bill, which passed unanimously in the House and Senate, which included provisions to increase benefits for Purple Heart recipients along with money and time to get STEM degrees

Actions potentially harming active duty or retired service members or their families:

USING OR PROPOSING TO USE TROOPS FOR QUESTIONABLE PURPOSES

  • In June 2020 he said he would mobilize “every available federal force both ‘civilian and military’” in order to quell at-times violent protests following the death of George Floyd
  • He requested US military chiefs stand next to him at his 2019 4th of July parade, while during the speech that followed it a group of active military members who’d received invitations to a V.I.P section wore MAGA hats and chanted things like “four more years”
  • He had Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Army General Mark Milley (the nation’s top military officer, in uniform, who later apologized for participating and politicizing the military) accompany him in a photo op with a bible at St. John’s Episcopal Church, after National Guard members cleared protesters from the Lafayette Square area with pepper spray
  • He sent troops to the border to paint the fence for a better “aesthetic” purposes in June 2019
  • In fall 2019 he sent thousands of American troops to defend oil assets in Saudi Arabia, the origin of 15 of the 19 reported perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks and whose leader who had Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi murdered and dismembered for writing critically about him
  • The week before the Fall 2018 election, he announced that 5,200 U.S. troops would “secure” the Southern border, though the immigrant caravan cited as the reason was still nearly 1,000 miles South and on foot

ENDANGERING OR NOT PRIORITIZING THE WELL-BEING OF SERVICE MEMBERS

OPPOSING MILITARY SERVICE IN HIS OWN LIFE AND FAMILY

  • He received five Vietnam draft deferments, the last one using bone spurs as a medical excuse (about which he reportedly told “fixer” Michael Cohen “You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam.”)
  • He had his second wife Marla Maples sign a prenuptial agreement that included the stipulation that all child support would be ended were Tiffany to join the military
  • According to his niece Mary, Donald and his father Fred were harshly critical of anyone joining the military rather than going into business, including her Donald’s older brother Fred Jr. after he joined the U.S. Air National Guard

ACTING IN OPPOSITION TO MILITARY PRINCIPLES LIKE TEAMWORK, SELF-SACRIFICE, HONOR, RESPECT, AND LOYALTY TO COUNTRY

  • He used funds raised at a January 2016 veterans benefit for his political campaign and staff rather than his foundation (according to a legal ruling), then downplayed it on Twitter, writing “all they found was incredibly effective philanthropy and some small technical violations, such as not keeping board minutes”
  • While in office he has caricatured American soldiers as “killing machines” and military leaders as “my generals,” in the latter case complaining that they “don’t know anything about business” in terms of working with allies to protect American interests
  • While focusing on collecting dues from allies, he has repeatedly threatened to withdraw from NATO, “the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years,” and which weakening is a top priority of Russian President Vladimir Putin
  • Veterans’ graves in Texas may be “dug up” for the border wall project, after he instructed aides to seize private property, also telling officials he would pardon them if they were caught seizing land illegally
  • In a speech to deployed troops he made false statements about both the 2018 military raise being 10% and it being the first one in 10 years
  • He called troops on Thanksgiving 2018 and told them he’s most thankful for himself, while also railing against judges, immigrants, and “bad” trade deals
  • He urged Florida to not count votes from military personnel deployed overseas in the 2018 November election
  • He blocked VoteVets.org on Twitter in June 2017
  • He accepted a Purple Heart from a fan at a 2016 campaign rally, saying “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.”
  • After a phone call with Turkish President Erdogan in which he went “off script” and without consulting with top military officials, he withdrew support from Syrian Kurds who’d been helping us fight ISIS, after which Turkish forces fired artillery at US Special Forces, killed hundreds of Kurdish fighters and civilians, and displaced over 100,00 people, after which the POTUS claimed that fighting “had nothing to do with” the United States
  • After he ordered our troops to abandon the main American military facility in Syria, Russian troops took control of and began using it for operations
  • In his 2015 biography he claimed he has “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military” because he went to a military-style academy
  • ⁠In a 1997 interview that included the topic of avoiding STDs while single and having unprotected sex, he said “It’s like Vietnam, sort of. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave solider.”

IGNORING OR DOWNPLAYING INPUT FROM GENERALS AND OTHER MILITARY EXPERTS

INTERFERING WITH MILITARY PAY OR EMPLOYMENT STATUS

  • Between 12/22/18 and 1/25/19, he shut down the federal government by refusing to sign the GOP’s funding bill, forcing the Coast Guard to go without pay and a number of service members to rely on food pantries, although his appointees received $10,000 pay raises
  • He fired HIV-positive service members just prior to the 2018 holidays

USING OR RE-APPROPRIATING MILITARY FUNDS FOR PET PROJECTS

  • In 2019 the Pentagon re-appropriated funds originally earmarked for military schools, military housing funds, and daycare to pay for the President’s border wall
  • He ordered an Air Force cargo crew, flying from the U.S. to Kuwait, to stop in Scotland (home to no U.S. bases) to refuel at a commercial airport (where fuel costs more) and stay overnight at one of his financially struggling properties (which isn’t close to the airport) (9/19)

RESTRICTING AVAILABILITY OR QUALITY OF SERVICES FOR VETERANS

INTERFERING WITH MILITARY JUSTICE OR CONDONING INJUSTICES

  • He has pardoned multiple war criminals, thus dismissing the findings of military courts
  • He ordered the Navy to rescind medals previously awarded to prosecutors involved in the Eddie Gallagher war crimes case
  • When a man was caught scamming veterans receiving pensions using high-interest “cash advances” in 2019, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined him $1

DENYING CITIZENSHIP TO SOLDIERS AND THEIR FAMILIES

VERBALLY ATTACKING FORMER SERVICE MEMBERS, THEIR FAMILIES, OR CIVILIANS, INCLUDING AT MILITARY EVENTS

TREATING TROOPS DIFFERENTLY BASED ON SEXUALITY OR GENDER

ACTING INEFFECTIVELY TO CONSOLE OR PROMOTE HEALING FROM LOSS

  • He sent commandos into Niger in an unsanctioned military action, in which 4 died in an ambush, after which he falsely claimed that his predecessors had never made calls to the families of fallen soldiers
  • After the Niger tragedy he reportedly forgot a fallen soldier’s name during a call to his pregnant widow Myeshia Johnson, then attacked her the next day on Twitter after she publicly reported that happening
  • While in Europe in 2018 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, he said the rain forced him to skip a ceremony attended by other world leaders for Americans who died there
  • He reportedly canceled a traditional Arlington Cemetery visit on Veterans Day 2018 due to rain

PERSONAL NOTE

I am the son of a retired Army officer but have not personally served in the military. This piece arose from a desire to counter disinformation about the President’s actions in regard to service members. To support that I consulted with active personnel and retired veterans. As always, if you think something is misrepresented, please specify in a comment.

Non-profit founder, musician, coach, X-C skier/CrossFitter, artist, concerned citizen, mammal (not necessarily in that order). See https://weems.works for more.

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