BOSTON (CBS) – A local Gold Star family is not happy presidential condolences for fallen soldiers have become a political issue.
“It doesn’t go away, it’s always there and sometimes things like this will set you off,” said John Roberge.
It’s been eight years since the Roberge Family of Leominster lost their son Jonathan. The 22-year-old Army Private First Class was killed in Iraq when his Humvee hit a roadside bomb.
“If the president were to call me I would have been blown away because he took time out of his day to recognize my son and what he’s gone through and it would have just meant so much,” said John Roberge.
Instead, the family got a letter from the Obama administration and wants it known that not all families get a call from the president.
“I was furious. I couldn’t believe they had said Trump wasn’t doing anything and that President Obama had called the families,” John Roberge said. “That hadn’t happened and I know the other four guys that died with my son that the president hadn’t called them either.”
The family chose to speak out Thursday night after the White House tried to clarify what President Trump was trying to say when he called the family of a soldier killed in action in Niger.
“I was stunned, when I came to work yesterday morning and brokenhearted when I saw what a member of Congress was doing,” said White House Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly.
Kelly criticized a Florida congresswoman for listening to the president’s phone call to the family. She revealed to the press that Trump told the family that the soldier “Knew what he was getting into.”
“In his way, tried to express that opinion, that he was a brave man – a fallen hero. He knew what he was getting himself into because he enlisted, there was no reason to enlist, he enlisted. And he was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be and with the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken. That was the message,” said Kelly.
The Roberge family and other Gold Star families they’ve spoken with in Massachusetts are upset that paying tribute to their loved ones has become a political issue.
“I don’t know we’re a tug of war in the political war and it shouldn’t be,” said John Roberge.
Sarah Roberge, Jonathan’s sister, says politicians don’t realize how upset they’re making Gold Star families.
“We’ve already gone through enough as it is. They’re making this into a contest,” said Sarah Roberge.