To: Donald Trump

Trump: Stop Using Veterans and Military Families as Props

During Trump's speech to Congress, he once again exploited the sacrifices of US troops and their families. This shameless disrespect for our military must stop. As veterans and military family members, we will not be props for Trump's agenda of authoritarianism and hate.

Why is this important?

For those of us who have served in uniform, or belong to military families, there was nothing respectful about Trump's "tribute" to the widow of Senior Chief Owens. Instead, it was a loathsome and gut-wrenching moment - using a family's grief over a slain service member as a political ploy to shield himself from criticism, while refusing to take responsibility for his actions.

During the 2016 campaign, myself and fellow veterans joined together to form Common Defense, an organization dedicated to fighting back against Trump's attacks on our most basic values. Now that he is in the White House, it is deeply troubling that Trump continues the pattern of using the military to push an agenda of hatred and division.

We need to say loud and clear that we and our loved ones refuse to be pawns in Trump's game. Trump does not speak for the military community, and Trump knows nothing of the sacrifices we and our families have made.

Trump's exploitation of Owens' death is just as unacceptable as his disrespect for the Gold Star Khan family during the 2016 campaign, and continues his long history of shameful insults to veterans, including POWs and Purple Heart recipients, as well as the countless Muslims, Immigrants, women, and people of color who served in uniform -- unlike Trump, who still only seems interested in serving himself.

Of course the sacrifices of Gold Star families deserve to be honored, but Trump's speech was not a way of honoring Senior Chief Owens, it was taking advantage of a family's grief for his own political gain.

This cannot be tolerated. Stand with us in condemning Trump's use of veterans and military families as political props.