Raising the Standard at UGA since 2013.

Stolen Valor

Of late, Gold Star families, families who have lost a member in military service, have been politicized–disgracefully turned from grieving families to political pawns. (Photo courtesy of Moody Air Base)

In their shameless efforts to challenge President Trump every step of the way, the Democrats have found a new tactic: using the families of soldiers killed overseas.

On October 4, 2017, an ISIS-affiliated group ambushed a Nigerien army patrol that was being escorted by U.S. Army Special Forces advisors. Four of the Green Beret advisors were killed. Initially, the Pentagon reported that three had been killed, but two days later the body of the fourth, Sergeant La David Johnson, was recovered. In the wake of the ambush, President Trump called the families of the fallen Green Berets, including the family of Sergeant Johnson.

When Trump called Myeshia Johnson, she was on her way to receive the body of her husband. Also in the car was Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, who quickly went public with her version of the call. She claimed that Trump was insensitive to Sergeant Johnson’s widow and that he said that Sergeant Johnson “knew what he signed up for,” as well as that he added, “but when it happens, it hurts anyway.” Conveniently, Wilson has not gone into any detail about what else Trump said during the call, specifically between his comments stating that Johnson “knew what he signed up for” and “but when it happens, it hurts anyway.”

If this is the newest approach of the so-called “Resistance,” Democrats ought to be ashamed of themselves for the hypocrisy of saying that they care about veterans and the military, while using their families as political chess pieces (as if continuing to protest the legitimacy of the democratically elected president a year after his election is not shameful enough).. Resisting Trump by holding up his nominees and challenging his legislative agenda at every step along the way is one thing, but to attempt to resist Trump by bringing in Gold Star families, families who have lost a member to military service, is an entirely new low, even for the liberal opposition.

In their never-ending war on Trump, the mainstream media has jumped on board with Congresswoman Wilson, pushing her version without giving any consideration to what little detail she provides. Additionally, the liberal media has attempted to portray Wilson as some sort of hero for leveling these scantily-supported accusations against Trump. What they have neglected, however, is not only the full details of the call but also Congresswoman Wilson’s voting record on veterans’ issues.

Congresswoman Wilson claims that she is “committed to honoring our service members, not only with words but with deeds.” However, her voting record indicates that a more accurate reflection of her stance would be “committed to honoring our service members, only with words, and only when it fits my needs.” In the six years that Wilson has been in Congress, she has made a habit of voting against legislation that would help veterans.

In March 2013, Wilson voted against an act aimed at preventing a government shutdown that would have also provided funds to the military and the VA. The act passed, with large bipartisan support. When that legislation expired and the government did shut down in October 2013, Wilson voted against legislation that ensured veterans and their families would still receive benefits despite the shutdown. Had that legislation not passed, the families of four soldiers killed in Afghanistan during the shutdown would have received no benefits. Additionally, Congresswoman Wilson has routinely voted against measures that would improve VA services, even though it is no secret that the VA system is broken and failing veterans at an alarming rate. To say that she supports our veterans and criticize the president for the nature of his phone call to Sergeant Johnson’s widow, all while maintaining a voting record such as this, is odious hypocrisy.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Democrats have used Gold Star families as political pawns. In a December 2015 campaign speech in Minneapolis, Hillary Clinton spoke about Army Captain Humayun Khan, a Muslim who immigrated to the United States with his Pakistani parents from the United Arab Emirates in 1980 and was killed in Iraq in 2004. At the Democratic National Convention in 2016, Khizr and Ghazala Khan took the stage, where Mr. Khan spoke about their son. Khan’s speech ignited a firestorm between the Khans and then-candidate Trump, whose proposed policies to limit immigration from Muslim-majority countries, specifically those with high rates of terrorism, had been the target of the speech. The Clinton campaign allowed them to become embroiled in this feud with Trump, with little to show for it but some cheap political points.

In their desperation to oppose Trump at every turn, the Democrats have reached what might have found a new low in their emerging tactic of politicizing Gold Star families. These families have suffered far more loss than nearly any politician could ever possibly begin to imagine, and politicizing them and their suffering not only forces them to continue to relive the loss of their loved ones in combat, but it also clouds the legacy of those fallen soldiers. Men and women have fought and died to keep this country free. Their sacrifices, and those of their families, are why we are able to have the political system that we have, along with all of the other freedoms and privileges we enjoy. Every American should show those families some dignity and respect by not making them and their fallen loved ones political pawns. Perhaps those who continue to politicize the Gold Star families should take a trip to Arlington, or to Walter Reed Hospital, where they can see first-hand the sacrifices that military families make.

This piece is adapted from one of the same name from the Winter 2017 edition of The Arch Conservative.

— Christopher Lipscomb is a sophomore studying international affairs and political science. He is a regular contributor to The Arch Conservative.

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