Area Veterans Show Support For Biden Before Trump’s Thursday Jacksonville Rally

Sep 23, 2020

Ahead of President Donald Trump’s campaign rally at Cecil Airport in Jacksonville Thursday, the Florida Democratic Party held a virtual roundtable with local veterans to talk about why they will be supporting Joe Biden in November.

“I trust him to do what he says, to own up to what he does and does not do,” said Command Sgt. Major Michele Jones.

Jones, who served 25 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve, said she believes Biden will work to restore the VA, veteran mental health services, and provide the U.S. Postal Service with enough funds to get veterans their medication on time. 

She also took a shot at Trump’s alleged comments against U.S. soldiers who died in war.

“Would you trust, work with, work for or defend, or befriend someone who views you and calls you a loser or sucker? I cannot,” Jones said.

Trump and the White House have called the alleged comments “fake news.”

Prior to Trump, Jones said she had never heard such “disparaging comments” from a commander-in-chief. 

Retired Naval Commander Dave Rogers served 22 years as a Surface Warfare Officer, with some of that time at Mayport Naval Station. He said he was “deeply troubled” and “personally offended” by Trump’s attitude toward military service.

“His contempt for American heroes like Senator John McCain, or his disdain for Gold Star families who don't happen to support him are deeply offensive to me, especially from a man of wealth and privilege who has never served this country,” Rogers said.

Trump has had controversy revolving conversations with Gold Star families since 2017

Rogers also voiced his support for democratic congressional candidate Donna Deegan, saying incumbent John Rutherford (R-FL 4th District), “has never spoken out about the president’s despicable comments,” or reports that Trump had knowledge of Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers

Retired Naval Officer and former President of the Duval County Democratic Black Caucus  Joseph Maceo George said Biden would be a “proven leader.”

“We support Joe Biden, who supports labor. One who will protect Social Security and Medicare when it comes to health care, protecting pre-existing conditions are very important to veterans,” George said. 

Retired Master Sgt. George Gillis said he served in Vietnam, and regrets that so many died during the conflict.

“However, we had a president that backed us up, from President Johnson on through President Obama,” Gillis said.

President Trump has publicly denied any ill will toward the military. Following the article about accusations of him calling fallen U.S. soldiers “losers”, he tweeted his support for the military. 

“As we get closer and closer to the November 3rd Election, and as my poll numbers rocket up, the attacks get more and more vicious. I love our HEROES!” Trump tweeted.

The president’s rally will open its doors at Cecil Airport Thursday at 4 p.m., although spots need to be registered beforehand. Trump is set to begin speaking at 7 p.m.

Sky Lebron can be reached at slebron@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.