President Donald Trump spent his weekend on Twitter playing the blame game over the government shutdown and saying Democrats do not care about the military. But on Saturday, one Democratic veteran made it very clear that she’s tired of “five deferment draft-dodger” Trump saying anything about the military.
Trump accused Democrats of “holding our Military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration.”
“Just the latest in a string of recent comments where he accuses Democrats like me for not caring about our military,” said Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on the Senate floor Saturday.
Duckworth is a retired Army lieutenant colonel. On Nov. 12, 2004, during the Iraq War, she was piloting a helicopter that was shot through the cockpit by an RPG. Both of her legs had to be amputated, and she lost partial use of her right arm.
“I spent my entire adult life looking out for the well-being, the training, the equipping of the troops for whom I was responsible,” she went on. “Sadly, this is something that the current occupant of the Oval Office does not seem to care to do and I will not be lectured about what our military needs by a five-deferment draft dodger.”
Duckworth served in the military for more than two decades and has remained passionate about it even after retiring from the Army. Following a yearlong recovery period after the explosion, Duckworth served as director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. During this time, she established the United States’ first 24/7 crisis hotline for veterans and made strides in housing and healthcare programs for veterans.
Former President Barack Obama appointed Duckworth as Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) in 2009. Here, she continued working on housing programs for veterans, as well as improving accessibility to the VA. Duckworth, a native of Thailand and one of the first women in the Army to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom, was passionate about difficulties Native Americans and women face in the military.
Duckworth paid a large sacrifice for her country and earned a Purple Heart for her courage. In contrast, Trump avoided the draft during the Vietnam War five times once due to bone spurs in his heels, a medical condition widely viewed as bogus. Trump has never released documentation and could not recall which foot had bone spurs during the campaign.
“And I have a message for cadet bone spurs: If you cared about our military, you’d stop baiting Kim Jong Un into a war that could put 85,000 American troops, and millions of innocent civilians, in danger,” Duckworth said over the weekend.
Trump and Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea, have been in a bitter exchange of threats and insults. On New Year’s Day Kim said he had a button on his desk that he could push at any moment to launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. Trump responded the following day to “inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
Over the weekend Duckworth also described Trump’s leadership particularly when it comes to the military as “reckless.”
Military funding isn’t something that should be underfunded or planned for in the short term. But that’s the reality we face under the reckless leadership of Trump.
Tammy Duckworth (@TammyforIL) January 21, 2018
This is not the first time that Duckworth has come after Trump for his military comments. In 2016 at a Virginia rally a veteran, Lt. Col. Louis Dorfman, gave then-candidate Trump a Purple Heart medal he had received in an effort to show his support of Trump.
While the medal is only given to service members who are wounded or killed, Trump told the audience, “I’ve always wanted to get the real Purple Heart. This was much easier.”
In response Duckworth tweeted a photo of herself in the hospital with the caption, “This is how one usually looks when you are awarded the Purple Heart. Nothing easy about it.”
Tammy Duckworth (@TammyforIL) August 2, 2016
Trump in October told the wife of a fallen soldier that her husband “knew what he signed up for.”
U.S. Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson, 25, was one of the four American soldiers killed on Oct. 4 in an ambush in Niger. His wife, Myeshia Johnson, received a phone call from Trump, who said, “He knew what he signed up for but when it happens, it hurts anyway.”
Myeshia Johnson recalled the phone call later on an interview with ABC and said that Trump, who insists that Democrats like Duckworth don’t care about the military, “couldn’t even remember my husband’s name.”