Veterans groups object to being dragged into Trump-Fox feud

By Rebecca Kheel - 01/28/16 05:11 PM EST

Veterans groups say Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is disrespecting those who served in the military by using their plight in his ongoing rivalry with Fox News.

Instead of participating in Fox's GOP debate Thursday night, Trump is holding a separate campaign event that he promised would benefit veterans groups.

Paul Rieckhoff, founder of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, pledged his group wouldn’t take money from Trump’s event should it be offered.

“If offered, @IAVA will decline donations from Trump's event,” Rieckhoff tweeted Wednesday. “We need strong policies from candidates, not to be used for political stunts.”

“If folks want to support vets, $$ doesn't need to be funneled through a political campaign,” he added in a tweet Thursday. “Just donate directly to groups doing good work.”

The Wounded Warrior Project, which itself has been the subject of controversy this week, has been touted by Trump in the past as a veterans group he supports. But it also distanced itself from Trump’s event, telling CNN and CBS it hasn’t been contacted to receive fundraising from the event.

Jon Soltz, an Iraq War veteran and chairman of progressive veterans group VoteVets.org, was even harsher in repudiating Trump.

“Let me put this in language Donald Trump understands,” Soltz said in a statement. “You’re a loser. You’re a third-rate politician, who clearly doesn’t understand issues and is so scared of Megyn Kelly exposing it, that you’re looking to use veterans to protect you from facing her questions.”

Trump decided to shun the Fox debate because of his ongoing battle with anchor Megyn Kelly and a mocking statement from the network when he floated the possibility of not participating.

A fundraising site set up for Trump’s event says 100 percent of the proceeds will go to veterans, but also that the money is being donated to the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

In an interview with CNN’s Jim Sciutto, campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson didn’t name a specific group that will receive the money.

“I believe there might be a list on the website,” she said when asked to name a group that’s agreed to accept the money. “There are a lot of organizations that are in queue to sign up for this. There are some veterans that will be attending tonight and will be doing some of the program, as well.”

Trump has drawn the ire of veterans repeatedly on the campaign trail. Over the summer, Trump was criticized after he implied Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wasn’t war hero for being a prisoner of war.

Veterans also dismissed his plans for the Department of Veterans Affairs as “unserious.”

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Comment by Loretta Riddell (Elohi) on February 1, 2016 at 6:14am

I have many good friends that are now Family an I can guarantee you none of us agree on everything and many times I even cross my own self drawn lines when I tell a Vet you served our Country, paid your taxes and help them with the paper work to get them the assistance needed to survive until the VA steps up and processess their claims, But Michael I am so blessed I have people who care and God has met my needs ..And if at a later time I do file it will be to help others... So long ago my grandmother had us delivering boxes filled with the needed by other families, sometimes shoes, blankets, food or a simple box of nails a person could not afford and put back on the store shelf that she and grandpa owned.. I used to think she would have given away the store if she thought it was truely needed. But she always reminded me God gave them enough so they could share raise their 11 children for some reason it seems I have walked almost the same path and even thou I lost 3 Sons, my life was blessed with 11 children and me clinging to her teachings

Comment by Loretta Riddell (Elohi) on January 31, 2016 at 10:45am

I have tried thinking like that , yet when I do then I remember every dime I would get would be stolen from those who struggle just to keep their Mom and Pop businesses and to keep their Homes and Families Secure and Safe would probably again be Taxed with another Tax,, and especially those Veterans who struggle just to maintain some semblance of sanity in this crazy world.. and if I did draw what was due which Veteran would be denied ..something I could never live with.. would rather live in my car if it ment a Veteran got the help needed while he is alive instead of a pay out to a grief stricken Family.. I honestly find it difficult to explain

Comment by Loretta Riddell (Elohi) on January 30, 2016 at 8:58am

I agree with you Michael, even today my Veterans who are having a tough time surviving urge me to do all the paper work in order to recieve what my Husband Deserved.. (when alive) but none of them can give me a answer to my queston.. Why ask for what he so deserved while he was living ,, while he lived his needs were swept under a carpet.. I would rather spend my time helping them fight for their own claims being honored.. am i angry and hurt inside yes But i want for nothing from the VA or Government anymore so as long as Trumps Money Raised or Any Money Raised to Help Our Veterans I would gladly accept as long as it is string free and Used for Our Veterans and Returning Military

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