'This country is better than that': Military veterans defend Lt. Col. Vindman against ‘vilification’ from Trump and ‘the right-wing media’

'This country is better than that': Military veterans defend Lt. Col. Vindman against ‘vilification’ from Trump and ‘the right-wing media’
Vindman CNN Screengrab

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine were among the Republican senators who hoped that being indicted on two articles of impeachment and going through an impeachment trial would teach President Donald Trump "a pretty big lesson"; instead, Trump became even more aggressive about going after his political enemies — especially Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, whom he fired from the National Security Council (NSC). In addition, Trump has suggested that Vindman deserves some type of punishment from the military. But Steve Benen, in an article for NBC News’ website, reports that many veterans are rallying to Vindman’s defense.

In a Washington Post op-ed published on Tuesday, February 18, for example, retired U.S. Army Col. R.D. Hooker Jr. praised Vindman for being “among the finest officers I have ever known.” And a coalition of over 1100 veterans has expressed its support for Vindman.

In an open letter, that coalition asserted, “The president should know that, despite taking aim at one Army officer, he has targeted anyone who currently wears — or has worn — the uniform. Our service members and veterans deserve the confidence of knowing that our elected leaders will come to their defense, just as they remain vigilant for ours.”

Hooker, in his op-ed, emphasized that Vindman acted honorably when he “complied with a legal subpoena” in 2019 and testified during House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

Vindman, according to Hooker, “did exactly what he had been taught and trained to do throughout his professional life. His reward has been vilification in the right-wing media, professional humiliation, scorn and abuse by senior government officials, and death threats. Surely, his service deserves better than that. Surely, this country is better than that.”

However, Benen finds it “discouraging” that the Pentagon hasn’t been aggressively defending Vindman the way that Hooker and others have.

“What’s discouraging is the fact that Vindman has received far less support from the Pentagon — including Defense Secretary Mark Esper — which committed to defending Vindman from political retribution,” Benen writes. “That hasn’t happened. There’s been no explanation as to why it hasn’t happened.”

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