Joe Sestak, 30 year veteran of the navy was invited to speak at a Memorial Day service. Sestak is also the Democratic candidate for the 7th congressional district, currently held by incumbent Republican Curt Weldon. Weldon has previously criticized Setak for allowing his 4 year old daughter to continue medical treatments for a brain tumor in Virginia, instead of completely changing her medical routine and changing doctors by bringing her to Pennsylvania.
Now state GOP officials are critizing Sestak for wearing his uniform at the Memorial Day service. What exactly did they think would be appropriate for the setting -- cutoffs and sandals? They also claimed he was wearing incorrect insignia, although this has been refuted.
Veterans for Sestak released a statement pointing out that Navy regulations allow retired military to wear their uniforms at memorial services. You can read both statements here. A few excerpts from the Veterans for Sestak statement are below (bold added):
Rocco Polidoro, a Republican co-chair of Veterans for Sestak, and the Commander of a local veterans group said, "Obviously, Curt Weldon needs to be educated on the rules and regulations of the military. This comes as no surprise considering that Curt has never worn the uniform of the United States military. As a Republican, I can safely say that Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan would be turning in their graves if they knew that Curt Weldon would be using this as another desperate attempt to swift boat a man who served his country for 31 years."
Jerry Gavin, a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 67, Delaware County said, "Former Vice Admiral Sestak, who is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 67, Delaware County, participated in the Marcus Hook Memorial Day events with other members of the Delaware County Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America. He was also asked to be a speaker and to read the names of the Navy service members from Delaware County who were killed in Vietnam. As someone who was myself wounded in Vietnam, it put tears in my eyes to hear Admiral Sestak read the names of those who had given the ultimate sacrifice. For anyone to criticize him for participating in non-political Memorial Day activities is deeply upsetting."
Candidates are supposed to be scrutinized. It's part of the process. But to criticize someone for where his daughter received medical treatment or the intricacies of naval wardrobe regulations is silly. C'mon. Question his stand on the issues. Question his campaign methods. Question that all you want. But don't create frivilous distractions. And don't insult veterans by nitpicking about uniforms. I see retired servicemen wearing their uniforms in the 4th of July parade every year. A National Guard officer who attends my church sometimes wears his uniform to service. I don't know if either is allowed by the military rules or not, but I'm not going to quiz them about it.