PA Veterans Find Trump’s Remarks Offensive

Ahead of Donald Trump’s event in Mechanicsburg on Monday, Pennsylvania veterans condemned Trump’s offensive remarks and called on Trump to apologize to a Gold Star family he personally attacked multiple times over the weekend.

Donald Trump has attacked the US Armed Forces repeatedly: Calling it weak and ineffective, accusing our soldiers of stealing reconstruction money from Iraq, and denouncing prisoners of war for being captured.

Congressman Chris Carney, a former Commander in the United States Navy Reserve:

Folks like me who have served this country honorably for many years are absolutely disgusted at Donald Trump and what he said about those who have sacrificed for this country. It is clear Trump has neither the temperament nor the experience to be Commander-in-Chief and to lead the forces of the United States – especially when we have such complex issues bedeviling the country and the world right now. It is unfathomable that a man like that would want to sacrifice the honor of the military for his ego. Anybody who looks at this objectively will realize that Donald Trump is as hollow as it gets when it comes to being Commander-in-Chief.

Donald Trump has called for the military to violate the Geneva Convention’s ban on torture and conduct reprisal killings of the family members of enemy soldiers and terrorists: “We’re going to have to do things that are unthinkable.”

However, as retired Army Major General Gale Pollock pointed out, our soldiers have all taken an oath to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” and are required to refuse illegal orders.

We asked Pollock what protocol troops and officers are trained to follow if they are given an illegal order. She responded that you are supposed to raise the issue with the person who gave the order and explain why you believe the order to be illegal. If this does not solve the problem, then the issue must be brought up the chain of command. This is why the question of illegal orders issued by the commander-in-chief is especially problematic. To whom could our military appeal to countermand such illegal orders? This would raise the specter of a constitutional military-civil crisis where our military leaders were forced for the first time in US history to ignore the orders of its civilian leadership.

“After 36 years in the Army, I believe very strongly in the values we share in the military. Loyalty duty, respect, selfless-service, honor, integrity, and personal courage,” said I think we have seen a trend of the military being insulted, whether it’s our prisoners of war, men who sacrificed their lives, or veterans. I am just really troubled by this, and I think it’s important we recognize that these behaviors, these accusations are unacceptable for a leader in America. Pennsylvanians respect the men and women who serve. And I would hope that many of us would be offended by the continued insults against our military that Mr. Trump has offered.


Last week, Mr. Khizr Khan the father of a Muslim American war hero gave a moving speech at the Democratic National Convention. He also called out Donald Trump’s offensive and divisive religious discrimination that would have prevented their son – an Army captain who gave his life to save other soldiers in his unit – from even entering the United States of America.

Fmr. Navy Lt. Commander Manan Trivedi was the battalion surgeon with the first units to cross the Iraq border in 2003.

Frankly, I find Donald Trumps latest rhetoric disgusting, disgraceful and reprehensible towards veterans. It’s just one more piece of proof that he lacks any kind of judgement to be our Commander-in-Chief. Unfortunately, I have seen first hand the ultimate sacrifice that people like Captain Khan and so many others have made. For Donald Trump to denigrate his family and service is beyond the pale.

For him to attack a mother who is still grieving for her son. It’s shameful.

This is not the first time for Trump. Remember his comments about Senator John McCain. Time and time again, Trump has insulted our veterans, and our men and women in uniform deserve better.

Meanwhile, Trump’s most vitriolic supporters are praising him for refusing to apologize to the Khans including Trump’s advisor Roger Stone who called Khizr Khan a “Muslim Brotherhood agent”. Similarly, the white nationalist video blogger Ramzpaul and the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer spouts hatred:

So, an Islamic terrorist from Pakistan infiltrates the US military, with the intent of getting high-quality training to use in his jihad against Whites, and also perhaps for the purpose of sabotage, and accidentally gets his dumbass killed.

And now, the Jews tell us we’re supposed to celebrate him as a hero? Just because he’s dead? […]

I am hereby calling for the Khan family to be immediately deported to Pakistan. What’s more, I want their terrorist son’s body dug up and shipped back with them.

This terrorist filth has no more right to rot in our ground than he had to walk on it.

Trump’s comments on the Khan family are the latest in a series of his disrespectful rhetoric and record aimed at American veterans and military families such as lying about donations to veterans’ charities, firing employees because of their military service and verbally attacking prisoners of war.

Taking Account: The Aftermath of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

— by Sgt. Brian Kresge, Jewish Lay Leader of the 56th Stryker Bridge

Editor’s Note: Jewish tradition calls for an accounting of the soul cheshbon nefesh during the High Holidays. Now that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is no longer in effect, we can openly discuss the issue of homosexuality in the military. In this spirit, Sgt. Brian Kresge shares his regret at getting one of his friends kicked out of the army under DADT.

In 1996, I was stationed at Fort Richardson, Alaska, just north of Anchorage, as part of a separate parachute infantry battalion.  Two years before, I had become ba’al t’shuvah coming out of Fort Benning to the 101st at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.  This continued in Alaska, working with the “Frozen Chosen” of Chabad Lubavitch in Anchorage.

This cast me, sadly, an odd-man out in my unit.  The request for special accommodations often put me at odds with my leadership.  They weren’t anti-Semites, they just were of the mindset that if the military wanted to bother with family or religious matters, they’d issue them to you.  I was regarded as a solid performer, a good shot, and a great infantryman, but the needs of faith compromised that at times.  The requests for kosher rations in the field and even exemptions from duties on Shabbos in garrison were met with disdain, and almost 17 years of having to repeatedly answer for a kippah in uniform never got old.

I made fast friends at my Alaskan duty station with an amiable fellow from Richmond, Virginia.  His fondness for smoking a pipe (an indulgence we shared) and flannel shirts made him look like he escaped from a porch on a hovel in Appalachia.  An infantry company only has a few non-infantry personnel, be it supply, or in this guy’s case, the unit Nuclear, Biological and Chemical specialist.  As such, grunts enjoy a branch-specific chauvinism that doesn’t view non-grunts as of sufficient military merit, thus he was equally an odd-man out.

Adam, my friend, was also gay.  He had a boyfriend in Anchorage who often came to visit him in the barracks, alternately dressed as a man or woman, but because of Adam’s 1950s woodsman appearance, no one gave it a second glance.

More after the jump.
My squad leader, a storied staff sergeant who helped write the book (literally) on long range surveillance operations, was a raging homophobe.  I, however, liked him because out of all my leadership, he looked out for me, in part because I never made him look bad in terms of my abilities.  His squad had the highest physical training average, the best marksmen, and we won squad competitions.  He was the best leader I worked for in the active duty Army.

There was a cycle when we enjoyed a number of back-to-back operations that separated us from kith and kin for a good period of time.  First Wales for a unit exchange which lasted over a month, then several weeks at the Northern Warfare Training Center (then at Fort Greeley), followed by weeks in the field.  We were arctic paratroopers, after all, winter operations were our bread and butter.  My squad leader and others at his level began to get cabin fever, and took to tormenting and humiliating junior enlisted as means of entertainment.  Adam began to inhabit the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality to escape from that.  I was at least insulated.  No one wanted to be seen picking on the unit Jew.

Unfortunately, my squad leader found Adam and another soldier in a compromised position.  It was really nothing more than two of them emerging from a bathroom buttoning their trousers, but it was enough for him to demand the launch of a DADT investigation.  Gay or not, the accusation and call for investigation were out of line.  Ultimately, the commander made the matter go away.

Adam, however, was filled with indignation, and filed a complaint against my squad leader, who perceived this to be career ending.  I liked Adam, he was a good friend.  A decent squad leader, though, engenders a certain amount of loyalty on the part of his subordinates.

I told him Adam was indeed gay.  While he was incensed that I hadn’t come forward before, he was relieved that someone could save his career, though I seriously question if it was ever in danger.  I went before the unit commander and told him about how Adam came out to me, and about his boyfriend, who as it turned out, was under age.

Adam was discharged under Chapter 14, incompatibility with military service.  It wasn’t a dishonorable discharge, but it did mean the benefits he was a year shy of earning were now gone.

My reward, sickening as it was, was an enhanced reputation as a soldier who “did the right thing.”  My advancement came at the expense of a good friend, one I lost forever and to whom I would apologize given the chance.  The under-aged boyfriend notwithstanding (especially in a unit where many guys had 16 and 17 year old girls in their barracks room more often than not), Adam did nothing to merit the humiliation and discrimination, and I wronged him grievously in my betrayal of his confidence over what would have amounted to a negative counseling statement for my squad leader.

While I don’t find homosexuality compatible with Torah-observant Judaism, one could see as a service member, DADT was always an imperfect policy.  It was easily weaponized based off of rumor and speculation.  When I left active duty, I believed that the less frequent interactions with the military under the National Guard would entail less scrutiny into personal lives.  However, here in the Pennsylvania National Guard, a chaplain from Lancaster–clergy from a liberal denomination–was targeted under DADT by an anonymous chaplain superior who we do know was from a more conservative denomination.  The matter was dropped, but certainly it could have humiliated the chaplain involved, not to mention compromised his civilian ministry.  Meanwhile, they protected the anonymity of his accuser.

And the policy wasn’t just useful to those with an anti-gay agenda.  I performed duties full time at my Guard unit’s armory a few years ago during a mobilization.  We had a soldier transfer in from Minnesota.  He was gay, though not openly.  His boyfriend dropped him off and picked him up from drill.  What was important to me, taking attendance, was that he showed up and did his duties for the weekend.  I had other soldiers, some combat veterans, being AWOL or failing drug tests, and you could have heard crickets chirping for volunteer opportunities.  He volunteered and did a great job as part of the National Guard security presence in Washington, D.C. during President Obama’s inauguration.  When he transferred to Texas to be closer to family, his jaded boyfriend came to the armory and dropped off gear he left behind, obviously hoping that outing him would land his ex in hot water.  The irony of DADT being wielded by a jilted lover wasn’t lost on me.

Informed by my experience with Adam, I wasn’t about to bite.  The kid was a good soldier.  He’ll deploy with the Texas Army National Guard, if he hasn’t already, and he’ll show his mettle in the service of this country in Iraq or Afghanistan, and his performance will have nothing to do with his sexuality.

My great-uncle, of blessed memory, was a Marine and fought at Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima.  He was awarded the Purple Heart and a Silver Star.  He expressed sentiments regarding gay Marines he fought alongside back then.  “If they were gay Marines, I would actually call them Marines that were gay,” he said to me, the distinction lurking in the organization of his phrase, “and anyway, history won’t mention anything other than that they were Marines.”

For my part – my military credentials – I served from 1994 – 2011 with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment in Alaska, and with the Pennsylvania National Guard as part of the now disbanded 28th Infantry Division Long Range Surveillance Detachment (LRSD) and the 56th Stryker Brigade.  I was also the 56th Brigade’s Jewish Lay Leader, as endorsed by the Aleph Institute, the military and prison service organization that was created to answer a call from the Lubavitcher Rebbe to serve Jews in those circumstances.  In my civilian occupation I am a programmer and author.

Taking Account: The Aftermath of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

— by Sgt. Brian Kresge, Jewish Lay Leader of the 56th Stryker Bridge

Editor’s Note: Jewish tradition calls for an accounting of the soul cheshbon nefesh during the High Holidays. Now that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is no longer in effect, we can openly discuss the issue of homosexuality in the military. In this spirit, Sgt. Brian Kresge shares his regret at getting one of his friends kicked out of the army under DADT.

In 1996, I was stationed at Fort Richardson, Alaska, just north of Anchorage, as part of a separate parachute infantry battalion.  Two years before, I had become ba’al t’shuvah coming out of Fort Benning to the 101st at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.  This continued in Alaska, working with the “Frozen Chosen” of Chabad Lubavitch in Anchorage.

This cast me, sadly, an odd-man out in my unit.  The request for special accommodations often put me at odds with my leadership.  They weren’t anti-Semites, they just were of the mindset that if the military wanted to bother with family or religious matters, they’d issue them to you.  I was regarded as a solid performer, a good shot, and a great infantryman, but the needs of faith compromised that at times.  The requests for kosher rations in the field and even exemptions from duties on Shabbos in garrison were met with disdain, and almost 17 years of having to repeatedly answer for a kippah in uniform never got old.

I made fast friends at my Alaskan duty station with an amiable fellow from Richmond, Virginia.  His fondness for smoking a pipe (an indulgence we shared) and flannel shirts made him look like he escaped from a porch on a hovel in Appalachia.  An infantry company only has a few non-infantry personnel, be it supply, or in this guy’s case, the unit Nuclear, Biological and Chemical specialist.  As such, grunts enjoy a branch-specific chauvinism that doesn’t view non-grunts as of sufficient military merit, thus he was equally an odd-man out.

Adam, my friend, was also gay.  He had a boyfriend in Anchorage who often came to visit him in the barracks, alternately dressed as a man or woman, but because of Adam’s 1950s woodsman appearance, no one gave it a second glance.

My squad leader, a storied staff sergeant who helped write the book (literally) on long range surveillance operations, was a raging homophobe.  I, however, liked him because out of all my leadership, he looked out for me, in part because I never made him look bad in terms of my abilities.  His squad had the highest physical training average, the best marksmen, and we won squad competitions.  He was the best leader I worked for in the active duty Army.

More after the jump.
There was a cycle when we enjoyed a number of back-to-back operations that separated us from kith and kin for a good period of time.  First Wales for a unit exchange which lasted over a month, then several weeks at the Northern Warfare Training Center (then at Fort Greeley), followed by weeks in the field.  We were arctic paratroopers, after all, winter operations were our bread and butter.  My squad leader and others at his level began to get cabin fever, and took to tormenting and humiliating junior enlisted as means of entertainment.  Adam began to inhabit the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality to escape from that.  I was at least insulated.  No one wanted to be seen picking on the unit Jew.

Unfortunately, my squad leader found Adam and another soldier in a compromised position.  It was really nothing more than two of them emerging from a bathroom buttoning their trousers, but it was enough for him to demand the launch of a DADT investigation.  Gay or not, the accusation and call for investigation were out of line.  Ultimately, the commander made the matter go away.

Adam, however, was filled with indignation, and filed a complaint against my squad leader, who perceived this to be career ending.  I liked Adam, he was a good friend.  A decent squad leader, though, engenders a certain amount of loyalty on the part of his subordinates.

I told him Adam was indeed gay.  While he was incensed that I hadn’t come forward before, he was relieved that someone could save his career, though I seriously question if it was ever in danger.  I went before the unit commander and told him about how Adam came out to me, and about his boyfriend, who as it turned out, was under age.

Adam was discharged under Chapter 14, incompatibility with military service.  It wasn’t a dishonorable discharge, but it did mean the benefits he was a year shy of earning were now gone.

My reward, sickening as it was, was an enhanced reputation as a soldier who “did the right thing.”  My advancement came at the expense of a good friend, one I lost forever and to whom I would apologize given the chance.  The under-aged boyfriend notwithstanding (especially in a unit where many guys had 16 and 17 year old girls in their barracks room more often than not), Adam did nothing to merit the humiliation and discrimination, and I wronged him grievously in my betrayal of his confidence over what would have amounted to a negative counseling statement for my squad leader.

While I don’t find homosexuality compatible with Torah-observant Judaism, one could see as a service member, DADT was always an imperfect policy.  It was easily weaponized based off of rumor and speculation.  When I left active duty, I believed that the less frequent interactions with the military under the National Guard would entail less scrutiny into personal lives.  However, here in the Pennsylvania National Guard, a chaplain from Lancaster–clergy from a liberal denomination–was targeted under DADT by an anonymous chaplain superior who we do know was from a more conservative denomination.  The matter was dropped, but certainly it could have humiliated the chaplain involved, not to mention compromised his civilian ministry.  Meanwhile, they protected the anonymity of his accuser.

And the policy wasn’t just useful to those with an anti-gay agenda.  I performed duties full time at my Guard unit’s armory a few years ago during a mobilization.  We had a soldier transfer in from Minnesota.  He was gay, though not openly.  His boyfriend dropped him off and picked him up from drill.  What was important to me, taking attendance, was that he showed up and did his duties for the weekend.  I had other soldiers, some combat veterans, being AWOL or failing drug tests, and you could have heard crickets chirping for volunteer opportunities.  He volunteered and did a great job as part of the National Guard security presence in Washington, D.C. during President Obama’s inauguration.  When he transferred to Texas to be closer to family, his jaded boyfriend came to the armory and dropped off gear he left behind, obviously hoping that outing him would land his ex in hot water.  The irony of DADT being wielded by a jilted lover wasn’t lost on me.

Informed by my experience with Adam, I wasn’t about to bite.  The kid was a good soldier.  He’ll deploy with the Texas Army National Guard, if he hasn’t already, and he’ll show his mettle in the service of this country in Iraq or Afghanistan, and his performance will have nothing to do with his sexuality.

My great-uncle, of blessed memory, was a Marine and fought at Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima.  He was awarded the Purple Heart and a Silver Star.  He expressed sentiments regarding gay Marines he fought alongside back then.  “If they were gay Marines, I would actually call them Marines that were gay,” he said to me, the distinction lurking in the organization of his phrase, “and anyway, history won’t mention anything other than that they were Marines.”


For my part – my military credentials – I served from 1994 – 2011 with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment in Alaska, and with the Pennsylvania National Guard as part of the now disbanded 28th Infantry Division Long Range Surveillance Detachment (LRSD) and the 56th Stryker Brigade.  I was also the 56th Brigade’s Jewish Lay Leader, as endorsed by the Aleph Institute, the military and prison service organization that was created to answer a call from the Lubavitcher Rebbe to serve Jews in those circumstances.  In my civilian occupation I am a programmer and author.