Hosting a hybrid campaign rally and fundraiser for veterans, Donald Trump followed through with his commitment not to attend the Fox News Channel-hosted Republican debate. Joining him were Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, who together are drawing a combined 2.3% of national support from likely Republican voters according to recent poll aggregations.

Having raised over $5 million from a handful of wealthy donor friends, Trump's fundraising website has so far raised over $570,000 for veterans' charities.


In his thick Texan accent, Sgt. John Wayne Walding (Ret.) expressed support for Trump’s candidacy.

“I don’t care about Republican or Democrat, I care about America,” declared Walding, continuing to share how he came to know Donald Trump Jr., at the Trump Hotel in Las Vegas while at a conference.

After warmly reflecting on their one-hour conversation, Walding then shared a story from “long ago” in which Donald and Melania Trump’s car broke down en route. After a couple finally assisted them in getting alternative transportation and car service, the Trumps paid off their guardian angels’ mortgage.

Describing part of his support for Trump, Walding spoke patriotically.

“He is unapologetically American. That’s what we are. We are American. Absolutely. America is the greatest thing that’s ever this this planet in its existence. And why should I ever say I’m sorry for that? Tell me that,” said Walding.

Seemingly drawing analogy between Trump’s political messages and foul-tasting-yet-effective medicines, Walding described Trump as forthright.

“Mr. Trump, he says things that may not make you feel good, but it is the better thing for this great country. And that’s what I care about, is the better thing for this country,” said Walding.

Powerfully recalling the Battle of Shok Valley in Afghanistan where he lost a leg, Walding spoke of the role of the Green Berets in special forces operations. He then movingly spoke about the difficult adjustment he faced when returning to civilian life with such an injury. With a wife and young child, he described the “painful insecurity” of being without one leg as a “gut-wrenching punch,” subsequently connecting his personal journey to the struggles of all veterans.

Crediting God, family, and America with his recovery, Walding received applause from the audience.

“Never underestimate the magnitude of what ‘thank you’ means to veterans,” advised Walding, stating that emotional support he and other veterans obtain from this simple gesture of recognition from fellow Americans.

“When I hear those two words, and somebody says ‘Thank you,’ I say, ‘You’re worth it.’ Because you are worth fighting for. You’re worth fighting for because we are the best place and country to live. God bless you,” said Walding.

Focusing on veteran suicides back home, Walding shared a startling statistic. On average, twenty-two veterans take their own lives every day.

Addressing depression and hopelessness experienced by veterans with difficulties transitioning to civilians life, Walding spoke of his own struggles. He then spoke of his desire to tackle the tragedy of veterans committing suicide.

“I want to punch that in the mouth. I want to punch twenty-two vets committing suicide in the mouth.

Walding then spoke directly to veterans with profound and powerful advice.

“When you start getting sad you need to tell yourself that you owe it to the fallen to live well. And think about that,” said Walding, “You live well for the fallen. That’s a debt that you owe. If your life sucks, they win.”

“That’s the best middle finger than you can give to the Taliban, is to live great and live awesome.”

Jacob Schick and Jeff Kyle (the late Chris Kyle’s brother), both veterans, then joined Walding on stage to raise awareness of their suicide prevention website targeting veterans: 22KILL.


The three veterans then presented Trump with an Honor Ring to commemorate the fallen.

Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter.