Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Veteran Richard Saul carries a sign that reads "Dump Trump" as a member of the Oklahoma National Guard stands nearby ahead of a U.S. President Donald Trump campaign rally at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Veterans Groups Condemn Trump as 'A National Disgrace' Over Reports He Called Fallen Soldiers 'Losers' and 'Suckers'

"Donald Trump does not respect our men and women in uniform. He does not respect their families. He does not respect veterans."

Jake Johnson

Advocacy organizations representing millions of veterans across the United States voiced disgust and outrage late Thursday in response to reports from multiple news outlets detailing how President Donald Trump has repeatedly disparaged American soldiers killed or wounded in war as "suckers" and "losers" in private while publicly presenting himself as the unrivaled champion of the nation's service members.

The Atlantic, citing anonymous sources with direct knowledge of the president's comments, reported that Trump in 2018 canceled a scheduled visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris "because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead."

"This is not surprising, nor is it the first time President Trump has attacked veterans, but it is a new low, even for Trump."
—Will Goodwin, VoteVets

"In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, 'Why should I go to that cemetery? It's filled with losers," according to The Atlantic. "In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as 'suckers' for getting killed."

The Atlantic additionally reported that during a 2017 visit to Arlington National Cemetery with then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, whose son Robert is buried there, Trump turned to Kelly and said, "I don't get it. What was in it for them?"

"Kelly (who declined to comment for this story) initially believed, people close to him said, that Trump was making a ham-handed reference to the selflessness of America's all-volunteer force," the magazine reported. "But later he came to realize that Trump simply does not understand non-transactional life choices."

The president's reported comments, confirmed by the Associated Press and the Washington Post, were immediately condemned by advocacy groups, lawmakers, and individual veterans as further confirmation that Trump has nothing but contempt for former service members whose lives were taken or severely impacted by overseas wars.

"This is not surprising, nor is it the first time President Trump has attacked veterans, but it is a new low, even for Trump," Will Goodwin, an Army veteran and director of government relations for advocacy group VoteVets, said in a statement. "There is no rhyme or reason for Trump to cruelly attack our nation's fallen heroes. And it is especially egregious given that he's the commander in chief of our Armed Forces."

"Donald Trump does not respect our men and women in uniform," Goodwin continued. "He does not respect their families. He does not respect veterans. And worse, he has matched his vile language with action. He has abused our military, has made our country less safe, and has put our men and women in uniform in harm's way for his own political gain."

The Union Veterans Council, a national labor organization, called Trump "a national disgrace" in the wake of The Atlantic's reporting. Alexander McCoy, political director of Common Defense, which represents millions of veterans across the U.S., also weighed in on Twitter:

In a series of tweets late Thursday, Trump denied the comments attributed to him in The Atlantic, writing—falsely—that he never called late Republican Sen. John McCain a "loser."

Trump went on to write that he swears "on whatever, or whoever, I was asked to swear on, that I never called our great fallen soldiers anything other than HEROES," a denial that critics found thoroughly unconvincing.

"This is more made up Fake News given by disgusting and jealous failures in a disgraceful attempt to influence the 2020 Election!" the president added.

In a statement, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, whose late son Beau was an Iraq War veteran, said that "if the revelations in today's Atlantic article are true, then they are yet another marker of how deeply President Trump and I disagree about the role of the president of the United States."

"I have long said that, as a nation, we have many obligations, but we only have one truly sacred obligation—to prepare and equip those we send into harm's way, and to care for them and their families, both while they are deployed and after they return home," Biden added.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

As Other States Try to Copy Texas, SCOTUS Asked to Find Abortion Ban Unconstitutional

The request from healthcare providers comes after a Florida Republican filed a copycat bill and advocacy groups called on Congress to affirm the right to abortion nationwide.

Jessica Corbett ·


As Bids to Slash Pentagon Budget Fail, US Military Spending Slammed as 'Height of Absurdity'

"Spending $780 billion on weapons and war while our communities starve, while the climate crisis worsens, while a pandemic that has killed millions and affected countless more rages on, is a national shame."

Brett Wilkins ·


'This Is Big': House Passes Amendment to Cut US Complicity in Saudi Bombing of Yemen

The vote, said Rep. Ro Khanna, "sent a clear message to the Saudis: end the bombing in Yemen and lift the blockade."

Andrea Germanos ·


Praised for 'Braving the Smears,' Tlaib Votes Against $1 Billion in Military Aid to Israel

One rights group thanked Tlaib "for speaking truth to power" while being attacked "for simply insisting that Palestinians are human beings who deserve safety, security, and freedom from Israeli apartheid."

Brett Wilkins ·


'A Choice Point for Humanity': Women Demand Visionary Shift at UN Climate Talks

"This is the time to unite together to build the healthy and just future we know is possible for each other and the Earth."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo