Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) criticized Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Thursday after the Democratic presidential candidate tried to pander to America’s veterans by treating them like victims.
“On a deeper level, I have always disliked it when politicians start pandering to veterans and telling us how bad we have it, and that if we just vote for them then they will fix all of our problems. That is just not true,” Crenshaw said during an appearance on Fox News. “It also gets to a really false choice, which is why we went to war in the first place.”
“I went there because our country needed it,” he continued. “We went there because it was in the best interest of our country — I wasn’t thinking down the road of being taken care of.”
Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL, has been an outspoken advocate on behalf of veterans since he was elected to Congress in 2018. He served five deployments overseas, and while on his third combat tour, he was hit by an IED blast during a mission in Afghanistan that destroyed his right eye and badly injured his left eye. After multiple surgeries, Crenshaw regained sight in his left eye and went on to deploy two more times — first to the Middle East and then to South Korea.
“Now, of course that doesn’t mean that we should not take care of our veterans. But this is also another, I think, falsehood that Bernie is spreading,” Crenshaw said, before noting that improving veterans’ health care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has always been a bipartisan issue.
“We spend far more on the VA than we have in the past,” he continued. “Every single year as a delegation, as a Congress, we look for ways to improve veteran care and he knows that.”
“But what he’s doing is he’s trying to rile people up,” Crenshaw added. “He is trying to make people angry. He is trying to tell veterans that they are victims and that only he can take care of them and I just think that’s such a dishonest way to do politics and I think he should be called out for it.”
The Texas congressman’s remarks were in reference to a tweet Sanders posted over the weekend that stated: “[I]f you can’t afford to take care of your veterans, then don’t go to war.”
“Watching Bernie pander to different groups to get their vote has always disgusted me, but now it’s personal,” Crenshaw responded at the time. “I didn’t go to war so that you would take care of me, Bernie. I went because I wanted to serve and our country needed it.”
The retired lieutenant commander was thrown into the spotlight a week prior to election day in 2018 after Saturday Night Live mocked him for the injuries he sustained while fighting for America. The incident springboarded Crenshaw into the national political arena and he has largely been considered a rising star in the Republican Party ever since.