WEST CHESTER, PA – Mike Parrish, Democratic candidate for Congress in PA-06, U.S. Army veteran, and Colonel in the Army Reserves, sharply criticized Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s offensive statements aimed at the Gold Star Khan Family.  Parrish also criticized his opponent, Rep. Ryan Costello’s support for Trump, as well as Costello’s record on veterans’ issues, and the move to privatize the VA.  In a statement, Parrish said:

 

Donald Trump’s blatant disrespect for our veterans and their families is disgraceful.  This is especially true in his attack on the Khans, a Gold Star family who has sacrificed more for our nation than most can imagine. As a veteran, and as an American, I am appalled by Trump’s remarks, just as I was when he disparaged the heroic service of Republican Senator John McCain.  Veterans and their families, particularly Gold Star Families, deserve the honor and respect of every American, and especially deserve the respect of our elected officials and candidates for public office, particularly a candidate who would be Commander-in-Chief if elected. 

 

My opponent’s support for a candidate for President who would so blatantly disrespect those who have sacrificed so much for our nation is an embarrassment for our entire community.  The Trump/Costello Agenda to privatize veterans’ healthcare for the benefit of special interests is completely unacceptable.

 

The American Legion, VFW, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veteran of America, AMVETS, The Military Officers Association of America and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America have all criticized Mr. Costello’s legislation to move the VA toward privatization.  Despite veteran opposition to the legislation he has co-sponsored, Mr. Costello proudly trumpets this as work he has done on behalf of veterans while accepting over $250,000 in special interest campaign contributions from the Health industry, the very people who will make tremendous profits on the backs of veterans and taxpayers if attempts to privatize the VA are successful   In fact, only 42 members of the House received more money from the Health Industry than Mr. Costello, according to FEC filings. 

 

Contrary to his public statements, Rep. Costello is already actively trying to move veterans’ healthcare in the direction of privatization as part of the Trump/Costello Agenda.  Mr. Costello supports the arbitrary budget cuts known as sequestration, which are starving the VA of desperately needed resources and negatively impacting its ability to care for veterans.  At the same time, he is co-sponsoring legislation that would “fix” the problem he helped to create by expanding and making permanent a program that was designed as a short term solution to backlogs at some VA facilities and a supplement for veterans who lived too far from such facilities to visit them for routine healthcare needs.  Make no mistake, the expansion of this legislation is an attempt to begin the privatization of the VA and deprive our veterans of the specialized care they need and deserve.

 

Like Costello’s legislation, Mr. Trump’s plans to reform the VA by moving toward privatization, have also been criticized by a wide array of veterans groups.

Together, Trump and Costello represent a dangerous agenda for the future of veterans’ healthcare.  We cannot tolerate such blatant disrespect for our veterans and their families on the campaign trail, or in the halls of Congress.

 

As a service disabled veteran myself, I benefit from the excellent care provided by the VA Hospital right here in Coatesville.  Their care exceeds my expectations, and is superior to the care I have received from private healthcare providers.  I understand why the VA’s specialized, comprehensive care is vital to veterans.  Veterans and veterans’ groups almost universally oppose any attempt to privatize the VA.  As a veteran and as a member of Congress I will vehemently oppose any attempt to privatize the VA.  If there are problems, I will lead the way in taking action to quickly and effectively address those problems, but I will not support dismantling the VA through privatization.  Mr. Trump and Rep. Costello cannot say the same.

 

Our veterans and their families do not deserve Mr. Trump’s hateful attacks and they do not deserve a Congressman who supports Mr. Trump.  More importantly, our veterans cannot afford the Trump/Costello Agenda for dismantling the care they have earned, and on which they depend.