Mr. President: Our veterans aren’t ‘losers’ or ‘suckers,’ and they deserve better

September 18, 2020 11:20 am

Arlington National Cemetery on May 17, 2013. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley | U.S. Coast Guard

Duty, honor, country.

As a Vietnam War veteran, these values have always been my North Star. They form the core of America’s defense and seal our shared bonds here at home. They’ve helped guide America’s steady hand for centuries — and will continue to for centuries to come. 

So, when I hear our Commander-in-Chief attack our nation’s veterans as “losers” and denigrate the honor of our fallen brothers and sisters, I’m not just outraged. I feel abandoned. 

As Vice President Mike Pence comes to town today, he must answer to Arizona’s veterans, service members, and military families for President Donald Trump’s shameful comments and failed record. 

Serving our nation is the ultimate act of courage and sacrifice. Not knowing when — or if — they will return home, our nation’s troops put their livelihoods on the line to protect America’s interests and advance democratic ideals around the world. Accordingly, each president has a duty to protect America’s soldiers on the battlefield and care for them when they return home. 

And each president has always upheld their oath to fulfill that duty — until Trump took office. 

Since he entered the White House, Trump has repeatedly disparaged and abandoned our nation’s military and veterans. He made it clear that he would not stand up to Russia for placing bounties on the heads of our service members. He’s diverted millions of dollars meant for our armed forces to build his border wall, which doesn’t work and doesn’t keep us any safer. He even called his own former secretary of defense, Gen. James Mattis, “the world’s most over-rated general.”  

In hindsight, we should have known that his first attack on the late Sen. John McCain in 2015 — infamously scoffing, “I like people who weren’t captured” — would be a harbinger of how he treats our veterans. 

Five years later, we’re still hearing the same disparaging remarks. “Losers,” he calls our troops. “Suckers,” he says of those who gave their life on the battlefield. 

Mr. President: Our veterans, fallen or otherwise, are not losers. They are heroes. 

Arizonans know that military service is part of the lifeblood of who we are as a society. Arizona is proudly home to more than half a million men and women who served in the military — about one in 10 adults — as well as seven military bases.

Veterans form the fabric of our communities, and we all honor them with the utmost respect that they deserve. It’s time our president does the same. 

Our ever-shrinking world is becoming more unstable by the day. As our enemies become stronger and alliances shift, we need to ensure our troops are fully supported to defend our country and secure our liberties. And we need leadership that will serve our veterans as well as they have served us.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Virgel Cain
Virgel Cain

Virgel Cain is a former enlisted Navy veteran who served two tours of duty in Vietnam and has served as the chairman and co-chairman of the City of Phoenix Military and Veterans Commission. In 2012, he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.