Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut attorney general, publicly suggested his past involvement in the Vietnam War in front of veterans across the country, but a report by the New York Times (NYT) says that Blumenthal never served in Vietnam.
The news is coming at a bad time for Blumenthal, who is currently running as a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate. Not only did he not serve in the war, he used his at best exaggerated war record to encourage soldiers who did serve in Vietnam, the NYT report says.
“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam. And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it—Afghanistan or Iraq—we owe our military men and women unconditional support,” Blumenthal is documented as saying.
According to public records, Blumenthal was not in the Vietnam War. He obtained multiple deferments that in effect kept him away from active military service.
“Too many have sacrificed too much to have their valor stolen in this way,” said former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, who is seeking the U.S. Senate Republican nomination.
The other Republican nominee for the Senate seat, Linda McMahon, thus far posted the NYT report on Blumenthal on her campaign website without comment.
In 1970 Blumenthal took a position in the U.S. Marine Reserve securing him a safe position in the United States. Blumenthal was not alone in avoiding serving in the Vietnam War. U.S. military deployment into Vietnam inspired a generation of protests, and has been debated for decades. Many Americans actively avoided military service in Vietnam.
But Blumenthal made comments about the troubles of soldiers returning from Vietnam to the United Ststes, outlining their struggle against an apparently ungrateful populace. He appeared to include himself as one who had taken the hard knocks of real veterans, while remaining in the United States.
Blumenthal has not released an official press release regarding the allegations, but has said publicly that it was a misunderstanding. He confirms that he served in the military at the time of the war but did not go to Vietnam.
“I served during the Vietnam era. I remember the taunts, the insults, sometimes even physical abuse,” said Blumenthal.
Blumenthal will hold a press conference on this issue 2 p.m. Tuesday, in North Hartford.