Trump says $5.6 million given to vets charities

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Tuesday released a list of military veterans organizations that he says have received some $5.6 million he raised in January and he blasted the media for questioning how much he personally contributed and where the money went.


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He previously declined to say which charities had received the funds and his campaign had gone back and forth about how much was raised: Trump said $6 million while his campaign manager said $4.5 million.

This led news organizations and critics to question who got the money and how much. And the Washington Post reported that Trump didn't give his pledged $1 million personal donation until four months after the fundraiser.

Local veterans said they’d still like to see a full accounting of the donations from the organizations Trump listed.

Former Ohio Veterans Affairs Director Tom Moe, who spent more than five years as a POW in Vietnam, said of Trump’s charity donation claims: “He spouts off. He says whatever sounds good. Certainly that needs to be fact checked to see if he really did it. And maybe he did.”

“I have my doubts,” said Paul Griffith, commander of VFW 3288 in Brookville, about whether Trump’s list of donations is accurate.

Griffith, a Vietnam war veteran and a Democrat, said “He says stuff but the facts and figures don’t back it up. He is a wind bag as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know who I’ll vote for but it certainly won’t be Donald Trump.”

It is the latest blow up for Trump over veterans affairs. In July, he criticized the military service record of U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who was shot down, injured and captured in Hanoi and held and tortured for more than five years as a POW. Trump said: "He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured."

Trump never served in the military. While Moe and McCain were POWs, Trump received multiple education deferments and eventually got a medical deferment.

Moe, a retired Air Force colonel, said Trump’s statement about McCain shows ignorance of combat and McCain’s circumstances. McCain’s plane was shot down and crashed landed in a lake in Hanoi, leaving him with broken bones.

“What does Trump suggest he should have done? Held his breath and gone to the bottom or shot himself or something? I mean, the comment is so outrageous by any standard. To say that about McCain in particular is completely outrageous because the ignorance is appalling,” Moe.

Trump continues to see strong support among veteran voters. A poll of veteran voters last month by Morning Consult showed 47 percent support Trump, 38 percent support Democrat Hillary Clinton and 14 percent are undecided.

Tom Hagel, professor emeritus at University of Dayton law school and former commander of Disabled Veterans of America in Dayton, attributes Trump’s popularity among veterans to his blunt tough talk and offer of simplistic solutions to complex problems. Clinton’s nuanced policy statements lack the impact that Trump’s statements have, he said.

“Trump is an incredible showman. You have to hand that to him. And Hillary Clinton is not,” said Hagel, whose brother is former U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. He added that American society is fed up with traditional politicians and are reaching for someone who says what he believes.

Information from the Associated Press is included in this report.

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