Conservatives are using grieving Gold Star widows to score political points

It has become popular for conservatives to use Gold Star veterans' sacrifices for their political benefit

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published January 8, 2018 2:34PM (EST)


It seems that certain Gold Star widows are tired of having the names of their deceased loved ones trotted out for political purposes.

One example is Seana Arrechaga, who stood up to right-wing commentator Dinesh D'Souza after discovering that he had posted a photograph of her at her husband's funeral in order to insult the NFL player protest.

"For people with normal human sympathies, it’s not hard to decide which side to be on #TakeAKnee," D'Souza wrote when he tweeted the photograph.

Last week, Arrechaga responded to D'Souza's tweet.

"I understand why people are kneeling, and I understand why people are upset by that," Arrechaga told The Washington Post. "My husband fought and died for all of our rights. He came from a place with no rights. That’s what his American Dream was. He loved being in the Army. It’s one thing when they share the photo and pay their respects. But learn his name first."

Arrechaga's husband was Army Sgt. 1st Class Ofren Arrechaga, who died during a mission in Afghanistan in 2011.

The Post story also mentioned the case of Maj. Andrew Budenz, who died in a motorcycle accident near his California base in 2013. A picture of his widow, Jenn Budenz, visiting his grave was featured in a story in the San Diego Union Tribune about the grief experienced by Gold Star survivors back in 2014 but has been retweeted by conservatives like President Donald Trump to take swipes at NFL players taking a knee.

"It’s terrible to use our military to score political points because it encourages the public to view our military as partisan," Kori Schake, a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, told the Post.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Andrew Budenz Donald Trump Gold Star Widow Jenn Budenz Ofren Arrechaga Seana Arrechaga