A coalition of veterans dedicated to strengthening America’s military has been uniformly slammed as racist by their critics. It’s a surprisingly callous take on a group chaired by a Purple Heart recipient who lost both his legs in Afghanistan.
Jason Church, a retired U.S. Army captain, joined with other veterans of the war on terror to ensure the United States retains military supremacy. Their group, Veterans on Duty, is warning that progressive bureaucrats have taken control of the armed forces and are forcing troops to sit through diversity, equity, and inclusion seminars when they should be training for battle. The newly formed nonprofit aims to reverse this trend by recruiting veterans to leadership roles and supporting lawmakers and policies that will help keep the U.S. military battle-ready.
To mark the group’s launch, Church penned a New York Post op-ed laying out these problems and enumerating Veterans on Duty’s proposed solutions. Critics immediately accused him of racism.
The progressive group VoteVets tweeted that Church "makes the same arguments that were made against integration over 70 years ago." VoteVets, which is chaired by Jon Soltz, who still has both of his legs, has spent tens of millions of dollars backing Democratic candidates, also slammed Church as a "loser congressional candidate." Church entered a 2020 special congressional election in Wisconsin in an effort to continue serving his country "even though the Taliban took my legs."
VoteVets CEO Janessa Goldbeck, who also has both of her legs, struck a similarly harsh note, calling Vets on Duty members "assholes" after saying, "50 years ago these people would have been mad about racial integration. Today they are mad about women and LGBT people in the military."
At no point in Church’s Post piece does he call for the military to exclude soldiers based on race or sexual orientation. But he isn’t surprised by the reaction to Veterans on Duty’s launch.
"The radical left has long used baseless accusations of bigotry to browbeat dissenters as it bends American institutions to its will," Church told the Washington Free Beacon. "This tired tactic should be ignored. We are laser-focused on our mission of advocating for a strong national defense and combating progressives’ efforts to corrode the military from within."
As Church points out, that corrosion couldn’t come at a worse time. In his Post piece, he notes that Iran is close to obtaining nuclear weapons, and the Chinese Navy last year "surpassed our own as the world’s largest," all while Russia is marching its armies through Ukraine.
Members of the media were also quick to criticize Church’s piece.
"I’m just woke enough to say you … are a fucking idiot," MSNBC pundit Malcom Nance tweeted at Church. Nance, who tweeted "#DealWithIt" after terrorists killed 13 U.S. soldiers outside Kabul Airport in Afghanistan last summer, called Church "another pro-Trump Summer Soldier begging to be given a public paycheck for exhibiting asshattery & beclownment above and beyond the Call of Duty."
"Just imagine how all these right-wingers would have reacted with horror if they had been around when Harry Truman desegregated the military," tweeted Max Boot, a Washington Post columnist who has not served in the military. "Now that was woke!"
Jeremy C. Hunt, a black military veteran who serves on Veterans on Duty’s board, quickly rebuffed Boot’s accusation. "We care about a military that wins," Hunt wrote. "If you want an example of modern segregation in the military, look no further than the Biden administration’s racist DEI protocols that you defend."
Still, Boot tells the Free Beacon that he stands by his claim "that the right-wingers who today decry the supposedly 'woke' military would have opposed the integration of the military in 1948."
"How do I know? Because that was the conservative position back then," said Boot, adding that "this whole 'Vets on Duty' exercise looks to be mere partisan politics designed to bash Democrats—not a serious attempt to protect the military."
Jay Kramer, executive director of Veterans on Duty, says that politics is precisely what puts the military at risk.
"At a time of growing threats to the United States, progressive ideologues are pushing radical policies that undermine the men and women of our military," Kramer told the Free Beacon. "While out-of-touch commentators focus more on messaging than substance, we are joining with like-minded veterans nationwide to do the hard work to ensure our military remains lethal and effective."
VoteVets and Goldbeck did not return Free Beacon requests for comment. Nance could not be reached for comment.