Ohio veterans speak out: We are not “suckers” and “losers”

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Ohio is home to nearly 800,000 veterans. That means about 9 percent of adult Ohioans have served in the military. The veterans and military families community is a major part of Ohio’s population, and they are speaking out.

The Atlantic recently reported on Donald Trump’s decision to cancel a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France in 2018 — a decision he blamed on the weather:

Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.

Those reported comments immediately generated a firestorm of outrage from veterans across Ohio.

State Rep. and Navy veteran Lisa Sobecki wrote to the Toledo Blade:

As a veteran with three tours overseas and more than five years in the U.S. Navy, I have been in tremendously difficult situations. For the last four years, my son has been serving in the U.S. Air Force at the 180th National Guard. My father, uncle, and several of my brothers-in-law and nephews have or are currently serving in the United States military.

My family serves our country because we believe in America and that it’s worth fighting, even dying, for. That does not make us “suckers.” My uncle was missing in action and later presumed dead. That does not make him a “loser.”

I’m incredibly concerned about reports President Trump, our commander-in-chief, called veterans “suckers” and “losers.”

You may not believe Mr. Trump said those things, but we all heard him say Sen. John McCain was “not a war hero” and “I like people who weren’t captured.” My uncle is a war hero! We’ve all heard Mr. Trump attack Gold Star family members and dismiss brain injuries as “headaches.” He’s done nothing to stand up to Vladimir Putin for placing bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

These are not partisan statements; they are facts.

If you support our military and our troops, you cannot support Mr. Trump. He does not understand service or sacrifice. Joe Biden knows. He knows what it is like to send a son off to war and worry that he might never come back. He understands what service members and their families give up to keep our country safe.

Don Gatchell, a veteran from Chillicothe, wrote to the Chillicothe Gazette:

Ohio native and Army veteran Jack Pachuta wrote to the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

I am a “loser” and a “sucker.” That’s not my assessment — it’s the opinion of the president of the United States. That’s right, I’m a veteran of the United States Army. I didn’t inherit hundreds of millions of dollars from a father who accumulated money in questionable real estate deals. No, I am the grandson of Slovak immigrants. My father worked in the coal mines of southeastern Ohio and in the steel mills of northeastern Ohio.

After joining ROTC and earning a bachelor’s degree while commuting to Kent State University, I was commissioned an officer at the peak of the Vietnam War. I may have been raised in Ohio, but I grew up in the Army. The three years I spent in the military, reaching the rank of captain, taught me more about people and about how the world functions than any college course ever could. Because of the GI Bill, I was able to purchase our first home with no down payment. And, the bill helped finance my two master’s degrees. I viewed this as the “thank you” from a nation that understood the sacrifices and patriotism of the citizen soldiers who have served in our armed forces, and who have fought our wars throughout history.

Unlike our president, when I visit a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital, I am honored and humbled (not embarrassed) to be among my fellow veterans, many of whom have suffered injuries, both physical and mental, for their commitment to our nation. To them, nonexistent bone spurs diagnosed by a questionable doctor was never an option.

In contrast, this is what Pachuta has to say about Joe Biden:

When Joe Biden visited a union hall in Milwaukee two years ago, my wife and I were there. After he spoke, he walked through the crowd, spending time with people and listening to their stories. Since I’d been up front while he was speaking, he’d seen the “U.S. Army Veteran” cap I was wearing and made a point of shaking my hand. “My son [Beau] was in the Army,” he said to me, and we talked briefly. He made me feel like we’d known each other for years.

Joe Biden is earning the support of Ohio veterans and military families.

Dennis Laich

Melissa Rodriguez

Chez Chesak

Are you an Ohio veteran or a military family member backing Joe Biden? You’re invited to join a virtual conversation with veteran and former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander on Thursday. Oct. 1. Click here to RSVP.

Putting #PeopleFirst. As Ohio goes, so goes the nation…