President Trump took time out from his busy Asia tour last week to meet with seven Vietnam veterans. While in Vietnam, Trump let the veterans speak, and each of them thanked the president for his political support and praised his efforts as the Veterans Day holiday passed.
Illinois veteran Steve Hopper said he admired what Trump is doing for the country: “Thank you for your dedication to our military. We’re all behind you in making America great again.”
California veteran Bill Reynolds said, “My family is so proud. My wife loves you. She does. We all love you.” Reynolds added that his fellow California vets gave him a message to bring to Trump: “All of the veterans that I represent in my community asked me to say to you: Keep doing what you’re doing. We need to win. We need to make America great again. And we definitely think you are on the right track!”
Several other veterans from California accompanied Reynolds. Veteran Robert Good was a bit shy at first and hesitated to speak, but said “You know, it’s an honor for me to be here today to meet the President of the United States that’s doing such a fine job for America.”
Max Morgan broke down in tears when he heard he was chosen to go to Asia to be part of the president’s veterans honor. “Mr. President, from my heart, thank you for your support of the military, and it’s an honor to be here as one of seven Vietnam veterans representing the 58,000 heroes who never made it home,” Morgan said.
Trump has steadfastly been a supporter of the military, vowing during his campaign to fix things like the problematic VA hospital system. On Thursday, Trump called these veterans the “great, great warriors and veterans of the Vietnam War. Our veterans are a national treasure, and I thank them all for their service, sacrifice, and patriotism.”
Trump continued: “To each of you with me today, you are the heroes who fulfilled your duty to our nation, and each of you under the most difficult conditions did what you needed to do and did it well.”
Later, Trump said the meeting with these seven veterans was one of his great honors.
While in Vietnam and prior to his trip, Trump has focused on several aspects of the Vietnam war. He says he won’t rest until the 1,253 missing veterans are returned home. While in Vietnam, Trump signed a declaration commemorating the war which occurred 50 years ago. Earlier in March, Trump signed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 to mark March 29 of each year as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.
Nearly 500,000 troops served in the Vietnam War. Trump, who was in Vietnam to discuss America’s interests and to promote peace and stability in the region as North Korean threats loom, was unusually humbled in his speech:
“I recognize the valor of the men and women in uniform who serve the United States. I cherish this opportunity to recall, with humility, the sacrifices our veterans made for our freedom and our nation’s strength.”
Vietnam vets have made a point of speaking out recently on their 50th anniversary. Several veterans criticized the new PBS film by Ken Burns about the war because the filmmaker glossed over communist atrocities.
About one percent of the entire US population serves in the military to protect our freedoms. A recent Government Accountability Office reported that all branches of the military are struggling to stay staffed and in a state of operational readiness. The report says that “unrelenting demands are disrupting manning, training, and equipping cycles.”
While each branch is doing its best to address the problem, concerns remain. The Marine Corps says about 80 percent of its aviation units don’t have the minimum number of aircraft ready for training. The Marines also lack wartime aircraft should the need arise.
The Navy has completed only 28 percent of its scheduled maintenance and the number is even lower—at 11 percent—for aircraft carriers.
Air Force troops are at less than 50% of an acceptable readiness level, and they have a shortage of 3,400 maintenance technicians and 1,500 pilots.
The Army has improved over the years but are still at a disadvantage, particularly compared to the armies of other countries. About one-third of its critical troops are not ready for a major conflict.