The family of a deceased soldier was left “speechless” over a $25K check from the president, which arrived days after The Washington Post reported that Trump had promised them the check four months previously but had not delivered.
When Corporal Dillon C. Baldridge was killed in Afghanistan in June, his parents received the customary condolence call from the President. His father Chris expressed frustration with the military’s benefits program, which had given the entire death gratuity to his ex-wife even though Baldridge said he could “barely rub two nickels together.” The president immediately offered to send Baldridge a $25K check. According to Baldridge, Trump said, “No other president has ever done something like this, but I’m going to do it.'”
But for four months, the promised gift did not materialize. On October 18th, The Washington Post ran a story on the missing check, bringing it nationwide attention. Five days later, the Baldridge family received a check in the mail, along with a note expressing the hope that it would make things “a bit easier” for the family. The check was signed the same day that the Post ran their story.
The date on the check raised suspicions that Trump had only sent the check because of political pressure from the Post’s story, but the White House denies those claims. One White House official told ABC News that there was “a substantial process” behind approving the president’s check and that it had been “in the pipeline” since the president’s call to the Baldridges. And White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said it was “disgusting” that the media was focussing on the belated check, and that it should have been “recognized as a generous and sincere gesture, made privately by the president.”
Trump has been in the news several times recently for his conduct towards the families of fallen soldiers. The president continues to deny allegations that he told war widow Myeshia Johnson that her husband “knew what he was signing up for.” And, despite Trump’s claim that he has called “virtually all” of the families of those killed during his tenure as president, half of the military families that The Washington Post was able to get in touch with had not been contacted.
The president also angered military families with his claim that predecessors Bush and Obama didn’t offer condolence calls after the deaths of soldiers during their tenure. His statement prompted an outpouring of stories from families who had received sincere condolences from both previous presidents. Delilia O’Malley, whose brother was killed during President Bush’s term, tweeted at Donald Trump, “When my brother was killed, Pres Bush listened while I screamed at him & then held me as I sobbed, you fat f—ing liar.”
But, despite the long wait for the check, the Baldridges were “speechless” with gratitude when they received it. “We are so moved and grateful, and we promise to use the money to honor Dillon’s legacy,” Jessie Baldridge, the stepmother of the fallen soldier, told WTVD. “Our goal is to help as many fellow Americans as possible for the rest of our lives.”
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