More veterans this past week joined the growing crowds of United States citizens and others who are protesting Donald Trump’s position as president. He offended many veterans after he honored the widow of Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, Carryn Owens, during his address to Congress on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, and then after he wore an Admiral’s Navy flight jacket and cap, supposedly gifts from the crew, during a speech aboard the USS Gerald R Ford on Thursday.
At first glance, honoring a widow and accepting gifts are normal of how a president should behave. Many veterans though took offense after comparing these actions to his past actions and schemes. Evidence from recent White House leaks and intelligence agency statements suggest that Owens should have never been in the combat situation that claimed his life. Former President Barack Obama supposedly refused to give the mission a green light because the high risks didn’t outweigh the potential gains. Given Trump’s past PR manipulations and the lack of intelligence information actually gained, a lot of critics believe that his honoring Carryn Owens and her husband was an attempt to draw the public’s attention away from the fact that Owens likely died for no reason.
Trump’s choice of clothing drew heavy criticism because he claimed four education deferments and one health deferment to stay out of Vietnam. Veterans believe that his wearing service clothing, even as gifts, is disgraceful. Some veterans and other critics have even questioned whether the jacket and cap were actual gifts or another PR stunt. Of course, these actions are merely the most recent to anger veterans. For example, the president recently ignored nationwide town hall protests about the Republicans’ plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act that so many veterans and their families rely on for healthcare coverage.