ALEXANDER OAKES: This July 4th, pick the candidate who's better for veterans

The last US president to serve in combat was George H.W. Bush. More specifically, during WWII, Bush Senior, who at the time was the youngest pilot in the entire Navy, flew 58 combat missions and even earned a Distinguished Flying Cross for completing a bombing mission while his plane was on fire.

Now, I am not an ardent supporter of Bush senior. In fact, given his involvement in the CIA and other deep state agencies, I look back at his presidency as a failure. Furthermore, if I had been alive during his time in politics and knew what I now know about the corruption in Washington, I would have been calling him an enemy of the people.

With this said, though, I do have to admit, they don’t make presidents like they used to.

Recently, Joe Biden and Donald Trump squared off for the first presidential debate of 2024. In this debate, many important topics were discussed, including (of all things) who has the better golf handicap. But the topic that stood out the most to me was the subject of who does a better job of representing people like me.

As a Marine Corps combat veteran, I recognize both the need for a strong leader who isn’t afraid to go to war, and the importance of having a leader who wants to avoid the costly horror of such an affair at all costs. Because of this, the debate surrounding who is the better president for military personnel and veterans has been on my mind a lot lately.

As it stands now, the two presumptive candidates running for president are an elderly man of questionable character who, let’s be honest, is suffering from serious cognitive decline; and another elderly man who runs almost exclusively on diet coke and McDonalds cheeseburgers. But nonetheless, it is true that one is better for active duty military personnel and veterans. Let me explain.

During my first deployment to Iraq in 2015, I was stationed primarily in Baghdad. At the time ISIS, or Daesh as we called them, had claimed that they would take the city by the end of Ramadan. Needless to say, it was already going to be a fairly chaotic time for an 18 year old grunt on the ground, but unfortunately it was made far more complicated by the restrictions placed on us by the Obama administration, of which Joe Biden was vice president.

Flash forward to late 2016, I was on my second deployment and operating in the battle torn region of Mosul in Northern Iraq. What was so interesting about this deployment, unlike the first, was that I got to see for the first time the difference between the Obama administration, and the Trump administration, who took over a few months after I had been in country.

Now full disclosure, these days I am an avid anti-war advocate and feel that we should not have been there in the first place. Regardless, though, at the time we were there, let's just say that the difference between the Obama/Biden administration and the Trump/Pence administration was stark. That is, when Trump took office, for better or worse, almost overnight the chains were removed from the dogs of war and, for the first time in my service, we were allowed to actually complete our mission effectively, which saved many lives.

Regrettably, I was injured in 2018 and had to leave the service. However, I still maintained ties with many of my former comrades who, with Trump in office, had decided that they wanted to stay in. Though I did not experience combat under Joe Biden, I know many who did, and what they told me angers me to this day.

Yes, everyone knows about the abysmal Afghanistan withdrawal, which Donald Trump correctly categorizes as one of, if not the most, embarrassing moments for our nation. But this is just one highly visible moment in an entire four year span of strategic nonsense.

To return to my former compatriots who stayed in under Trump, they all went to Syria on their next deployment. And to put it bluntly, under Trump, they did God’s work. But when Biden got into office, that all changed. In just four years of Biden, all but one of those warriors has quit. Some left because they refused to go back to the Obama days of fighting with their hands behind their backs. Some withdrew because of the Biden administrations unconstitutional vaccine mandates. And that's not even mentioning the Biden administration's uncanny obsession with DEI and transgenderism, along with an ugly Afghanistan debacle. Small wonder recruitment is at an all-time low and why no one I served with is still in. Oh yeah, and we can’t forget that the Biden administration, and, in all fairness, the uni-party as a whole, is hell-bent on starting a war with Russia and Iran.

My point is, who is better for veterans is one thing, but as far as who is/was better for the guys on the ground fighting, it's not even close. Sure, neither of these men are hardened warfighters like Theodore Roosevelt or George H.W. Bush, but there is no question that Trump had our back and truly cared about us. Conversely, all the Biden administration seems to care about is what looks good to his base, ie woke folly like DEI, vaccine quotas, and transgender people in combat roles.

But what about the guys who have already done their fighting?

This topic is a little more nuanced, mainly because the president does not have quite as much authority over the VA as he does the military. That said, when I was in the military, I was warned ad nauseum about the Administration of Veterans Affairs. I was told that people were dying in line waiting for care, that officials high up in the administration were posting images making fun of veteran suicide, and that the entire system only existed to be a shield for the government. Why a shield? Because, according to the veterans in my unit who were getting out between 2014-2015, the VA’s main purpose was to give the government legal protection when you killed yourself by establishing a paper trail that said, in essence, “we saw him and treated him so it isn’t our fault." In practice, "treating" someone really just meant they gave him a bunch of medication and sent him on his way. As such, I was not planning on ever going to the VA, even though I got out with a severe leg injury that needed follow-up care.

Unfortunately, plans aside, I was forced to. Medical complications forced my hand and I was no longer able to “white knuckle” my injuries. But when I did go to the VA, during the Trump administration, it was not at all the hellscape I had been forewarned about. In fact, everyone seemed not only eager to help me, but they also were adamantly against medication unless it was absolutely necessary. Now, is this because Trump was president? I can’t say, but what I can say is that when Biden took over, I went from getting fairly decent medical care, at least as far as socialized medicine goes, to not even being able to get seen for a massive tumor of scar tissue on my back. Why? Because their new directive is not to help veterans, but to cut costs.

Again, it would be dishonest to say that this is solely because of the Biden administration. All I can say is that the VA was bad before Trump, good during, and is now, once again, terrible. And I am not the only one who has had this experience.

There is one more potent, albeit anecdotal bit of information I have to give in regard to who is the better president for veterans. Put plainly, because of my service-connected issues, I am somewhat limited in what I can do. However, I am still a warrior. Even with my injuries, I managed to earn my master’s degree in just three years with a 4.00 GPA. And the plan was to continue my education so that I could work remotely as a psychologist helping veterans. To do this, I was planning on using a veterans program titled VOCREHAB: a program which helps injured veterans get to a place where they can contribute to society in meaningful ways.

Well, after being accepted into the program, then going through the rigorous admissions process for my chosen program, six months later, the VA withdrew their support and told me that they were no longer able to support veterans who needed follow-on education. Instead, my options were to get placed in one of their available jobs, or to kick rocks.

Now, again, I cannot say with certainty that this is a direct result of Biden taking office. All I can say is that under the people put in place by the Trump administration I was on track to use my academic acumen to help veterans, even while being injured. That dream is, for now, dead.

In short, while Biden and Trump both have their issues, when it comes to people like me, and people like who I was when I was active duty, the idea that Biden is better for us than Trump is, fact check false.
 

Image: Title: trump biden 4th
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