While listening to Gen. John Kelly’s emotional speech at the White House Thursday in which he defended President Donald Trump’s call to a Gold Star widow and detailed his own experience losing a child in the military, Karen Vaughn thought back to 2011, the year her son, a U.S. Navy Seal died in Afghanistan.
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She thought about the moment when a casualty officer knocked on her door and forever changed her world. She thought about when her daughter-in-law collapsed to the floor at the news that her husband would not be returning home, after all.
“I thought he did such a beautiful job bringing it back to the reality of what we’re witnessing when a young man comes home to American soil when he’s killed afar,” she told FOX Business’ Liz MacDonald on “Risk & Reward.”
Gen. Kelly, chief of staff for Trump, was forced into the spotlight this week after the president came under fire for his condolence call to the pregnant widow of a slain soldier, in which he reportedly said her husband “knew what he signed up for...But when it happens, it hurts anyway.”
Trump made the comments during a five-minute phone call to Myeshia Johnson, the wife of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, according to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who criticized the president during an interview with a local news outlet. Johnson was among four service members who died in Niger during an ambush.
Kelly lost his son, Second Lt. Robert Kelly, in 2010 during an ambush in Afghanistan and explained during an impromptu press conference what the process is like for the loved ones of those killed overseas. His response today was partially prompted by reports that President Obama did not call Kelly after his son died, which Kelly defended.
“A casualty officer typically goes to the home very early in the morning and waits for the first lights to come on,” he said. “And the casualty officer proceeds to break the heart of a family member and stays with that family until, well, for a long, long time. Even after the internment.”
Vaughn criticized the representative for leaking information about the phone call between Trump and the Gold Star family -- a private moment that shouldn’t have been politicized, she said.
“It’s not just that she spoke it out loud, what she thought of the phone call, which was rude enough, but then she dug in and just stood her ground and kept talking about it and kept giving interviews and kept tweeting about it,” she said. “She accuses our president of not having any compassion for the fallen, but I’d say that she was pretty compassionless herself.”