When does Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick plan to quit lying about his military service? It's been a week since it was first pointed out that Walt had been misrepresenting his service on his campaign Facebook page and, as shown below, still no change. Today that lie was repeated nationally by KIDO radio's Austin Hill.
Walt Minnick never served in Vietnam. In fact as pointed out here, he tried desperately to avoid being drafted and did so by joining the Army Reserve. He said so in his own words in The Native Home of Hope: People & the Northern Rockies, published in 1986.
“I went to law school during the Vietnam era when draft deferments were hard to get. I was admitted to Harvard Law school but my local draft board didn't want to let me go. My draft appeal finally worked its way up to the presidential appeals board. If I won, I would be able to finish my first year of law school and then get drafted. If the state of Washington won, I would have to go right away. I didn't mind going in the army, but I really wanted to finish law school first. So I joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps unit—that was a couple of years before ROTC got thrown off the Harvard campus.”
When called to fulfill his two-year active duty obligation, he was assigned to the Pentagon where he worked on economic aspects of Vietnamization. He spent approximately 18 months of his two-year commitment there; the remainder was spent in the White House.
The Vietnam service lie is repeated at Boardroom Insiders, where they credit him with "a tour of duty in Vietnam," and at LivPAC. "He served as a 1st Lieutenant in the Vietnam war. He then returned home to serve in the White House," according to their biography.
And now the lie has been picked up by Austin Hill (on whose radio show Minnick appeared Thursday), published on his own blog and spread to the well-known conservative site, Townhall, where Hill calls Minnick a "veteran of the Viet Nam [sic] war."
Wonder how the family of Walla Walla Community College alumnus Daryl Meidinger, who actually did do a tour of duty in Vietnam but never returned, feels about Walt's avoiding the draft and the misrepresentations about his service? Reports say that Meidinger was killed in action April 30, 1969, just a few days before Minnick received his JD from Harvard. Bet he would have "really wanted to finish" something, too.
Update: John Foster, campaign spokesman for Congressman Minnick, has responded:
Please correct your post and title immediately. Walt has never lied or misled anyone about his military service. While not permanently stationed in Vietnam, he did travel, work and serve there as part of his work in the Pentagon to improve the country's economy. (He also spent time in Afghanistan while working on drug issues.) Attacking someone's military service is the worst kind of attack, particularly when it is done by a fellow veteran.
Supporting and assisting veterans is an issue of top importance to Walt. During my time in his Congressional office, I watched our casework team help more than 700 Idaho vets get the benefits they were owed. I watched out Idaho staffers help honor vets and get them the commendations they had earned. And I watched our DC staff craft legislation to make it easier for rural vets to get the care they deserve. All because Walt makes this issue a priority for his offices.
As evidenced by the two biographies quoted in the post above, "serving his country in Vietnam" is not generally perceived to mean traveling there on occasion; it's generally perceived to mean in combat. Veterans of all generations understand that embellishing or misleading others about one's military service is inexcusable. It should also be noted that Minnick's Congressional biographies do not include the same misleading phrase.
Update 2: Minnick's spokesman has advised that they consider the Facebook page referenced above "inactive" and their new official campaign page can be found here, with the first visible entry being made February 14. The controversial phrase on the old page has been edited to avoid further confusion.