RICHMOND, VA — Today marks the fifth anniversary since Donald Trump descended that escalator and announced his candidacy for president of the United States, an image none of us will soon forget.
In honor of this anniversary, DPVA will spend the rest of the week running through some ways the Trump administration has harmed Virginia. Today, we’ll focus on his broken promises to the military:
- The Trump administration has diverted tens of millions of dollars away from military projects in Virginia to send to the failed border wall. He has diverted nearly $10 billion in military funds to cover the ballooning costs of the wall, undermining Congressional authority and shortchanging places like Hampton Roads. The funds that should be supporting members of our military are instead going into plush contracts for whichever company praises Trump the loudest.
- During various visits to the Commonwealth, Trump repeatedly promised to build up our military and build a wall that Mexico would pay for.
- “We’re going to build a wall, and Mexico’s going to pay for the wall.” [Trump Campaign Event, Abingdon VA, 8/10/16]
- “Our military is not being funded properly. We don’t have enough money going in. We need a strong military. We need a powerful, strong military.” [Trump Campaign Rally, Ashburn VA, 8/2/16]
- “We’re going to build up our military stronger than it’s ever been before. Ever, ever, ever, ever.” [Trump Campaign Rally, Norfolk VA, 10/31/15]
- The reality is Mexico still isn't paying for the wall. Instead, Trump forced the military to divert $3.6 billion away from critical construction projects. His wall obsession diverted over $77 million in funding from Virginia military projects, and after demanding $5 billion in taxpayer funds for his wall, Trump forced a 35-day government shutdown affecting more than 34,000 Virginians.
Broken campaign promises aren’t the only thing putting Virginia’s military at risk. Naval bases in Virginia top the list of military bases most vulnerable to climate change. Trump and Pence pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, staffing their cabinet with fossil fuel lobbyists, and rolling back dozens of environmental protection rules no doubt will exacerbate the threats to Hampton Roads.
Additionally, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs’ government-run hospitals treated their veteran COVID patients with hydroxychloroquine as Trump promoted the drug for months with no evidence to its efficacy. According to the AP, “VA Secretary Robert Wilkie had wrongly asserted publicly without evidence that the drug had been shown to benefit younger veterans.” As criticism mounted, the VA rolled back their use of the antimalarial drug, which is known to have potentially harmful side effects, including causing heart rhythm problems. As Senator Chuck Schumer said, veterans were treated as “guinea pigs” by the Trump administration.
“Trump’s disregard for the well-being of this country means he is also putting our veterans and military families at risk. From his inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to his xenophobic border ‘wall’ that is a complete waste of taxpayer dollars, Trump has never missed an opportunity to do a disservice to our military, and the Commonwealth writ large,” said DPVA Press Secretary Carson Brown.