Retired Veterans Affairs nurse J. David Cox Sr., who currently serves as national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, has responded to Donald Trump’s comments toward the family of fallen Army Reserve Capt. Humayun Khan with the following opinion column, originally posted on Medium:
Serving as a registered nurse in the Department of Veterans Affairs for more than 20 years, I saw firsthand the lasting effects of war on our nation’s veterans.
Will Fischer, executive director of the Union Veterans Council, shares his thoughts about Donald Trump’s comments toward the family of fallen Army Reserve Capt. Humayun Khan.
Soldiers return from battle with missing or paralyzed limbs, traumatic brain injuries, loss of hearing or vision, psychological trauma, and so much more.
But ask any one of them how they feel about their experience at war, and nine times out of 10 they’ll tell you: “I was able to come home to see my family – I’m one of the lucky ones.”
Too many of their brothers and sisters in arms never return home. The families they leave behind must live every day without their son or daughter, husband or wife, brother or sister, father or mother.
These Gold Star families, as they’re called, deserve our utmost compassion and support. No one can give more to their country than their own life or the life of a loved one; these families have given both.
That’s why I’m disgusted and outraged by the contempt Donald Trump has shown the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, the 27-year-old Army reserve officer who was killed in Iraq in 2004 while saving his unit from a car packed with explosives.
I was at the Democratic National Convention last week when Khizr Khan, his wife Ghazala by his side, bravely denounced Donald Trump for his anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views. The Khan family moved to the U.S. from Pakistan in 1976, when their son was two-years-old, and they are naturalized American citizens.
As Mr. Khan pointed out, if Trump were president, their son wouldn’t have been allowed to enter the U.S., let alone join the military where he served so valiantly.
Trump responded by claiming that Mr. Khan is a tool of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and suggesting that Mrs. Khan was prevented from speaking because she’s a Muslim woman. It is sick to suggest that a woman too overcome with grief to speak about her fallen son is anything but a patriot who deserves our highest admiration and support.
Less than a week later, this Tuesday, Trump minimized the sacrifice of service members who are honored with the Purple Heart for injury or death in combat. He says he “always wanted a Purple Heart” despite taking four deferments of service for college and another for “foot problems” to weasel his way out of Vietnam.
Unlike Donald Trump, no real soldier wants the Purple Heart – and all would gladly return it to have their health or life back again.
Although I am retired from the VA, I am humbled to represent hundreds of thousands veterans every day as president of the federal union representing 670,000 federal and D.C. government workers. Half of these employees are veterans themselves or have a veteran in their household, and they are proud to continue serving their country in a different uniform.
I also chair the Union Veterans Council, a coalition of union veterans focusing on giving veterans good-paying jobs and reliable benefits. Go to any jobsite across America, and I guarantee you will find many if not most of the workers are veterans. The veteran class is the working class, and they deserve better than what they’ve gotten.
The council’s executive director, Will Fischer, is a Marine Corps veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries he sustained while fighting in Iraq in 2004. Will has his own take on Donald Trump’s recent comments about the Khan family, which is embedded in this post.
I agree with Will. It’s ridiculous that we as a country are even having this conversation.
The sacrifice of our service members should never be minimized.
The families of fallen soldiers should never be attacked for speaking their minds.
And a person who does both should never be elected our commander-in-chief.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.
SOURCE American Federation of Government Employees