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Wounded veterans and Gold Star families answer President Trump’s question about why troops serve

Her process was solitary, but the last time she wrote these letters on our dining table, I walked her into the kitchen. She cries as her pen moves across the paper.

He returned home safely. The letters are not read. I found them under a desk drawer last week as I was packing our house to move, still stamped, “Do not open unless I lost” written on them.

I had them in mind a few days later, when Jeffrey Goldberg’s article appeared in The Atlantic, detailing how President Donald Trump called the American Marines killed in World War I “losers” and “suckers.”

It also describes how on Commemoration Day in 2017, Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery with his then secretary of Homeland Security, Gen. John Kelly, whose son Robert, a young Marine Corps officer who died after stepping on a landmine in Afghanistan in 201

0, is buried there.

President Donald Trump with John Kelly on Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, May 29, 2017.

“He was 29,” Goldberg wrote. “Trump, on this visit, intends to join John Kelly in paying homage to his son’s grave, and to comfort the family of other fallen service members. But according to knowledgeable sources on this visit. , Trump, while standing in Robert Kelly’s grave, went straight to his father and said, ‘I didn’t get it. What’s in it for them?’ “

This is a crude question. And it missed the point.

“To deliver something higher than yourself is why most veterans are from my point of view, from my experience, why they join,” said Kait Wyatt, a Marine Corps veteran whose wife is Cpl. Derek Wyatt, also a Marine, died in Afghanistan in 2010.

First Lt. Robert Kelly was the platoon commander of his wife. He also ordered retired Corporal Sebastian Guadalupe Gallegos.

“They do it because of a patriotism. And that patriotism is not allegiance to a specific political or political party but to America,” explained Gallegos, who lost his arm in an explosion in Afghanistan.

Americans serve to protect their brothers at arm’s length.

Major Gen. Paul Eaton served more than three decades in the Army, bringing his training experience to young American impanterry in Iraq, where he was responsible for training Iraqi forces.

His father, Air Force Col. Norman Eaton, died in the Vietnam War in 1969, flying missions to deliver supplies and provide close air support to Special Forces.

“He was shot on a section of the Ho Chi Minh trail just outside Vietnam in Laos,” Eaton explained in a video posted online criticizing what Trump said about service members, holding the recovered dog tag again.

“The best men and women in the United States of America are found in the Armed Forces of the United States military. Brave men and women. They are not just brave, they are smart – and they are smart.”

But how can a commander in command who wraps himself in military images, and is responsible for sending them in the form of damage, misunderstand it?

To borrow Trump’s words, what is in it for him?

Members of the military appear to be on the mind of this President only when they serve a purpose.

In Trump’s case, that popularity through integration.

The military is the most respected American institution. Sixty percent of Americans “declare[ed] a great deal of trust in military leaders, “according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2020.
We all serve today: The military wife's guide to living in a pandemic

In comparison, 13% say the same in the press, and only 6% have confidence in Congress.

For Trump, the military is a muscle for him to bend, even with the National Guard police in the presence of federal law enforcement that pushes peaceful protesters outside the White House, or puts active troops on duty on the US-Mexico border while on an immigration. crisis – even if they are constitutionally prohibited from delivering a useful role there – or an expensive tax-funded fund Fourth of the military military parade prominent in political videos issued at the Republican National Convention.

The military is less important to Trump when the transaction goes the other way: when they need him. As dozens of U.S. troops in Iraq suffer brain injuries – “headaches,” the President called them – as a result of a retaliatory Iranian strike that Trump wants to minimize. Or when Russia placed the bounties given to the heads of US service members in Afghanistan and the President did not mention it when he spoke to Vladimir Putin.

When Gold Star families exercise the rights that their fallen loved ones have vowed to protect – like the Khan family, they lost their son Humayun in a suicide bombing in Iraq and spoke out against Trump at the 2016 Democratic Convention. they.

And just this week, as Trump criticizes who he considers likely a source for The Atlantic story, he is once again trying to drive a wedge between group and file service members and leaders of the military, accusing its own defense officials of wanting to “do nothing but fight wars so that all the amazing companies make bombs and make planes and make everyone stay happy . “
This military politician is what angered Kait Wyatt this week, when he saw a picture of Trump’s 2017 cemetery visit that he had never seen before. Here, the President is talking to Gen. Kelly. Vice President Mike Pence looks like a cameraman capturing a moment in the middle of an audience of viewers taking pictures on their phones.

There, in front of the men, was his wife’s grave.

“You can’t stand the graves of better men who fought and died for this country as you separated that country from your incompetence,” she said on CNN.

Better men and women were ordinary Americans who did something extraordinary: they answered the call. Survivors often fight for normal life. They struggle with visible and invisible scars because, in all likelihood, they are the rare few who say, “send me.”

“What do you risk dying – and for whom – is perhaps the deepest question a person can ask themselves,” war correspondent Sebastian Yunger wrote in “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging,” a research to the challenges faced by military personnel when they return from the war.

“Most people in modern society have been able to pass on their whole life without having to answer that question, which is both a tremendous blessing and a significant loss.”

For the leader of the leader who did not really ask for an answer to that question was a disgrace.

Please send story ideas and feedback to homefront@cnn.com

CNN’s Catherine Valentine contributed to this report.

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