Late one summer night in 2014, Kevin Keller broke into his best friend’s home. Keller was a U.S. Navy vet wracked with constant pain, and because his right arm had been crippled by a stroke, he had to use his left hand to scrawl a note of apology to his buddy: “Marty, Sorry I broke into your house and took your gun to end the pain! FU VA!!!
Finbarr O’Reilly was a canny Canadian war photographer embedded in Helmand province in Afghanistan. T.J. Brennan was a boisterous, profane and skeptical Marine sergeant who played host to O’Reilly in 2010, as he and his men undertook the thankless mission of fending off invisible Taliban fighters in a moonscape of dusty villages. One day, Brennan, while out on patrol, was knocked down by the shockwave of a rocket-propelled grenade. O’Reilly took a photo of the wounded warrior, and they fell in love.
The response last month to a call for 2,000 veterans to act as a barrier between activists and law enforcement was much swifter than expected – with organizers having to stop accepting volunteers.
Voters should perhaps take heart that Gary Johnson now knows what Aleppo is. He is on the ballot in all 50 states, competing with the major party nominees for your vote.
Veterans’ groups are criticizing the National Rifle Association for releasing a pro-Donald Trump ad that was apparently filmed at a national cemetery in violation of government policy, calling for the ad to be taken down and accusing the gun group of “using our dead to score political points.”
When reporters asked Donald Trump months after his veterans fundraiser where the money went — including whether Donald had, indeed, donated $1 million — he told them he didn’t have to account for the funds.
Trump’s particular popularity with veterans is, historically speaking, lower than it should be. Compared to polls of previous GOP presidential candidates in the summer months preceding an election, a Morning Consult survey shows that Trump’s candidacy has split the usual Republican advantage in half.
Following a lengthy temper tantrum aimed at the media, Donald Trump released a list of veterans charities that were going to receive the money he claims to have raised back in January. One of those charities, Foundation for American Veterans, is known to be a scam operation.
“I’m protesting the hate speech he stands for,” said Peter Bronson, an 81-year-old Korean War veteran who served on a French air base in Morocco, to The National Memo. “We all served with Muslims. Most of us served in the Middle East.”
Recall that Trump wasn’t obligated to raise money for veterans while skipping the Fox News debate. Nor did anyone force him to claim that he had raised $6 million at the end of the night. The former increasingly appears to have been a publicity stunt, and the latter a blatant lie.
The billionaire developer’s latest stunt was all about him, not helping those who served. While he did raise $6 million, those funds all went to the Donald J. Trump Foundation — a tax-exempt non-profit entity that generally gives barely $1 million a year to charity.
When those same soldiers we enthusiastically send to fight our wars return with physical or mental issues, we’d privately prefer that they stay out of view. Which renders us hypocrites.
While some 2016 presidential candidates are talking about income inequality, few have directly addressed perhaps the most jarring manifestation of poverty.
On Memorial Day, Purdie will visit the grave of her son — whom most everyone called David — at the Los Angeles National Cemetery. It will be her 100th birthday.
In a way, the “boys in blue and gray” also still live with us in the experiences of veterans returning home from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Caring for those who have borne the battle and for their families remains an urgent task.