After President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited members of the military in Iraq and Germany during the Christmas season, there was much coverage surrounding some of the troops asking Trump to sign their “Make America Great Again” hats.
Video footage and the written report of Trump's visit with service members in Iraq showed signing of hats and a "Trump 2020" patch.— CNN (@CNN) December 27, 2018
But troops' requests for the autographs could brush up against Department of Defense guidelines for political activities. https://t.co/jUUqF91bcX
Ret. Lt. Gen. @MarkHertling says President Trump signing MAGA hats during his trip to troops in Iraq was “over the top.”— New Day (@NewDay) December 27, 2018
“It’s just not appropriate in front of a military audience,” he says about Trump discussing domestic politics during the visit. https://t.co/5CZln009mH pic.twitter.com/TTcNQralS6
“There is no rule against Airmen bringing personal items to be signed by the president,” U.S. Air Forces Europe said in a statement. “Any time the commander in chief offers the opportunity to meet with Airmen, such as this official holiday visit by the President and First Lady, Airmen are welcome to participate. No policy violations have been brought to our attention at this time.”
Speaking with Townhall, Eli Crane, a Navy SEAL veteran and CEO of Bottle Breacher, expressed his frustration with how the media decided to cover the incident, which was borderline accusatory.
“As a veteran, I’m always very happy to see our presidents, regardless of party affiliation head down range and visit our deployed service members,” Crane said. “It means a little bit more when they take the trip during the holidays and experience a brief stint of the sacrifice that we feel for many months at a time away from our friends and family.”
Crane said it not just presidents and politicians he appreciated seeing while serving overseas.
“I remember one celebrity in particular that seemed to be spending as much time overseas as I was during my deployments,” he recalled. “Gary Sinise was constantly making the rounds. I remember one time I was in Baghdad International Airport, I walked into the chow hall and there was Lt. Dan having lunch with some soldiers. It makes you feel good, as if people with status, not just our friends and family remember we are over there.”
The Navy SEAL, who has deployed three times to Iraq, said the coverage and subsequent damning from some was the last thing family members of those involved should have been subjected to:
It was not surprising and even disappointing to see [the media] raising the question of whether or not our troops were violating military rules by having MAGA hats and asking the president to sign them. Sure, let’s add that to the list of things these men and women are worrying about this holiday season. In addition to wondering if their families and children really understand why they can’t be there for Christmas, trying to stay at the top of their game to avoid coming home in a bodybag let’s try to get them in trouble for wanting an autograph from their Commander in Chief on a red, patriotic baseball cap.
Rep.-elect Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), who Crane had served with in Iraq, also voiced his disappointment in the media seemingly going after service members violating the DOD’s policies.
Actually saddens me that this is the story the left-wing media felt was important.— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) December 29, 2018
A Commander in Chief signed hats for his troops. Yup, that’s the actual story.
Outrage culture has gone too far. Stop looking for reasons to club each other. https://t.co/Ahga4FzxH5
What advice Crane would give to the media? In short, keep the military out of their attempts to take jabs at the president:
We all get that this war you all have engaged in with President Trump will likely last throughout his presidency and probably long afterward. Do us all a favor and keep our service men and women out of it. Yes, many of them happen to support and even participated in getting him elected. That being said, when they put on those uniforms and head down range to protect our national security interests they do it for everyone. They don’t care who you voted for, where you come from, what color you are or whom you pray too. They fight for us all.
“Remember that the next time you try to smear them for what you believe to be an infraction of military rules,” he added.