Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth said Thursday that President Donald Trump has “failed miserably” in his attempts to support US troops.
“He’s failed miserably when it comes to supporting our troops and their families,” the senator from Illinois said. Duckworth is a veteran who lost both legs during an explosion in Iraq while serving in the US Army.
Trump often touts his support for troops and veterans during his rallies across the country.
“If he truly cared about the troops he would go visit them in a combat zone, he would go to the cemetery whether it was raining or snowing to honor our heroic dead,” Duckworth told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “Anderson Cooper 360.”
The President faced backlash after he skipped a planned visit to an American cemetery and memorial while in France because it was raining. The next day the President visited a different American cemetery, much closer to Paris, to observe Armistice Day.
“We still have 80,000 veterans who have not yet gotten their payments for their housing allotments while they’re going back to school on the GI Bill,” Duckworth said.
Earlier Thursday, Trump touted his administration’s efforts to modernize the Department of Veterans Affairs, and cited the expansion of the GI Bill as a point of success. The Forever GI Bill was passed by Congress and signed into law in 2017 to “enhance or expand education benefits for veterans, service members, families, and survivors.”
But thousands of student veterans have not received education and housing payments from the US government because of a series of glitches plaguing the VA’s information and technology system, top VA officials confirmed during a congressional hearing on Thursday.
Duckworth also said if the President was committed to troops he “certainly wouldn’t send 5,000 troops to Texas to defend against a caravan that is on its way to Tijuana.”
There are 5,900 US troops deployed to the southern border to support the Department of Homeland Security in dealing with a group of migrants heading toward the United States through Mexico. Duckworth claims Trump “did this as a political statement,” and said this is going to “bring down the troops’ morale.”
Duckworth said if Trump “truly wants to support our troops then he should pay more attention to making sure that we actually have a strategy for North Korea, that he provides the funding to support our veterans … that he fills the 40,000 vacancies that exist within the VA right now in programs that have everything to do with homelessness to mental health.”
CNN’s Zachary Cohen and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.