Trump doesn’t rep­re­sent vet­er­ans’ val­ues

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - Com­mu­nity Voice FROM: KEN­NARD R. WIG­GINS JR


To my fel­low vet­er­ans, Mr. Trump claims, “I think my pop­u­lar­ity with the vets is through the roof.”

If this is true, I don’t get it. I con­fess, he lost me about a year ago when he dis­re­spected John McCain’s ser­vice as a pris­oner-of-war. This is from a man who sought and re­ceived five draft de­fer­ments, al­though he claims that his mil­i­tary ex­pe­ri­ence in a board­ing school gave him more ex­pe­ri­ence than many in uni­form.

But this is all pretty “low hang­ing fruit” com­pared to the char­ac­ter at the core of the man. In 37 years in uni­form, I was ex­posed to non­stop lessons in lead­er­ship. Noth­ing I learned in those years of study and ex­pe­ri­ence about lead­er­ship re­sem­bles the man­ner of Mr. Trump. There is no ev­i­dence vis­i­ble of the fun­da­men­tal lessons of re­spect, honor and dis­ci­pline great lead­ers tend to ex­hibit. Crit­i­cize in pri­vate, praise in pub­lic? Lead from the front? Put your peo­ple first? Take blame and share credit? Be the last guy in the chow line? Watch out for your buddy? Build a team and men­tor your re­place­ment? Leave no one be­hind?

Does any of this sound like Mr. Trump? Oc­ca­sion­ally in the mil­i­tary we get what are some­times termed as “toxic lead­ers” who place them­selves above their troops. Most of us have ex­pe­ri­enced this type of per­son­al­ity. Would we ac­tu­ally elect one as our Com­man­der in Chief?

Our oath was to the con­sti­tu­tion, not a per­son. Does our prospec­tive Com­man­der in Chief re­spect and de­fend this same con­sti­tu­tion? In the words of Mr. Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father of a sol­dier killed in ac­tion, “Has he read the con­sti­tu­tion?” Or does Mr. Trump con­sider it as mere “po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness”, which can be safely ig­nored? His great fond­ness for au­to­cratic lead- ers such as Putin and Kim Il Jong is a clue to his po­lit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy.

The mil­i­tary in which I served in­cluded peo­ple from al­most ev­ery con­ceiv­able walk of life. I met peo­ple from ev­ery state, ev­ery race, ev­ery creed. I am con­vinced that we are all the bet­ter for it. Our mil­i­tary looks like our coun­try. It is our coun­try in all its di­ver­sity. Mr. Trump would like to take us back to an­other time, al­though he doesn’t say ex­actly when. Did you ever have a bat­tle buddy who was of a dif­fer­ent color or re­li­gion? Were you ever in a unit that was en­tirely the same? I took from, and I gave or­ders to peo­ple of dif­fer­ent gen­ders, races and re­li­gions, with­out blink­ing an eye in the most in­te­grated in­sti­tu­tion in Amer­ica, of which I am proud to have served. It was a world class model of in­tegrity, ex­cel­lence and self­less ser­vice.

I don’t see Mr. Trump demon­strat­ing any of those those mil­i­tary val­ues. The very core of his char­ac­ter seems al­most the op­po­site in ev­ery way. He is fond of name call­ing, la­bel­ing and ex­cus­ing him­self. He does not take re­spon­si­bil­ity for his ac­tions (it is al­ways some­one else’s fault) but he never fails to take credit for his suc­cesses. Try to imag­ine a mil­i­tary leader who be­haved in this fash­ion. Would you fol­low a per­son like this in com­bat? The very idea of him sac­ri­fic­ing him­self for an­other is un­think­able given his his­tory.

Some are fear­ful that a man like this would have his finger on the nu­clear but­ton. A scary thought, but I am more fear­ful of his un­pre­dictable and hair-trig­ger judge­ment re­gard­ing our Con­sti­tu­tion, and the rights and free­doms for which our vet­er­ans have sac­ri­ficed. Mr. Trump may be pop­u­lar for his pranks and his show­man­ship, but I hope our vet­er­ans will give some se­ri­ous thought when they en­ter the vot­ing both. Does this man truly rep­re­sent the Amer­i­can val­ues you trea­sure, and the free­doms you fought for?

Brig. Gen. Ken­nard R. Wig­gins Jr. served for 37 years in the United States Air Force and the Air National Guard.

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