East Tenn. Gold Star mother treasures letter from President Bush

Included in the scrapbooks are letters, which are treasured, because in August 2005, her son was killed by an IED while on a mission in Iraq.

PHILADELPHIA, Tenn. (WATE) – President Trump is facing backlash after questioning whether his predecessors did enough to honor service members who died in combat.

On Monday, he credited himself with taking extra steps to reach out to military families that he says former presidents didn’t take.

“If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls. A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it,” said President Trump.

Related: Trump: Lawmaker ‘fabricated’ account of his talk with widow

Since President Trump’s comments, aides to former presidents have come forward saying that’s simply not true: letters and calls to families are much needed sentiments that presidents have always taken upon themselves to do.

A Loudon County Gold Star mother says the letters she received when her son was killed in combat mean the world to her. She has stacks of letters, scrapbooks and pictures. They were laid out in her family room on Wednesday showing her son Sgt. Joseph Hunt’s service overseas.

Included in the scrapbooks are letters, which are treasured, because in August 2005, Sgt. Hunt was killed by an IED while on a mission in Iraq.

“They’re hard to read, but later on when you go back and you look over stuff again, you realize that they meant what they said and they were hurting just like we were,” said Hunt.

Hunt says at the time, she remembers getting calls from Iraq, visits from soldiers and handwritten notes. Then, a letter from President George. W. Bush came in the mail.

“Just came out of the blue in the mail. We weren’t really expecting it but it came and it’s something that we hold dear and we’ve put it up for storage because that’s something I would like for his boys to have someday,” said Hunt.

Many other Gold Star parents also received a letter from the president.

“I got a letter so I wanted to say I appreciated that letter and I hope Trump will do his letter writing. I feel like he will,” she added.

Hunt says no matter whether President Trump writes a letter or calls, it will be appreciated.

“It’s somebody other than your family, it’s somebody up there in the White House that appreciates your son’s service. The fact that he gave his life for our country. Somebody noticed,” she said.

Flipping through the letters isn’t just a reminder for Hunt, she says it makes her grateful, “Their daddy died a hero. He was proud of his service and we were proud of him.”

Back in 2005 and in the years to come after her son’s death, Hunt says she was invited to meet President Bush. She says they did that in Nashville and the experience was incredibly meaningful. Hunt says President Bush was sincere in his sentiments to their family.

Hunt suggests other Gold Star Moms who have not received a letter or phone call reach out to their local service officer and ask them to put a request in for a letter from the president.

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