Denny Heck

From the office of:

Denny Heck

Sending Office: Honorable Denny Heck
Sent By:



Dear Colleague,

Please join me in urging Secretary Esper to discourage President Trump from attending West Point graduation by

The plan to bring back graduating West Point cadets is dangerous and reckless. There is no reason to force cadets, who have all traveled home, to travel back to the center of the outbreak.

It is a shame that cadets at West Point this year will not have a traditional graduation. However, that is no reason to risk their safety nor to risk them being a vector of the disease. It is an unacceptable risk to these young servicemembers to gather together
simply for a photo opportunity for the President. These cadets deserve to know that their civilian leadership has their best interests in mind and Congress can prove that by preventing this in-person graduation from taking place.

Please join me in sending this letter to Secretary Esper by
. For more information, please contact Faiq Raza in my office at or (202) 527-0488.


Denny Heck                                                                          

Member of Congress


Letter Text:


Dear Sec. Esper,


            We are writing today to express our concern regarding President Trump traveling to West Point, NY to deliver an in-person commencement address to the graduating class of the United States Military Academy (USMA). We urge you to do everything
within your power to prevent this from happening. The lives of our servicemembers, especially these young officers at the beginning of their careers, are too precious to be needlessly exposed to potential harm.

            The three service academies have all tackled the problem of graduation differently. The United States Naval Academy outright cancelled graduation and the United States Air Force Academy sent home underclassmen but quarantined graduating seniors
on campus and conducted a ceremony which adhered to social distancing guidelines. The USMA had earlier made the decision to cancel graduation and send the entire cadet population home. To force the USMA to recall all graduating cadets just so that President
Trump can enjoy the pomp and circumstance of a military academy graduation is unwise. It would be a terrible mistake to believe that the danger from COVID-19 has passed and that the movement of these cadets to the USMA is without risk. Asking them to travel
from across the country to the center of the COVID-19 outbreak is a dangerous and reckless request.

            The Department of Defense has had to make many difficult decisions over the course of the last few months in dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. We are understanding of the need to maintain readiness and to try and continue to adhere to operational
requirements. However, we should embrace lessons learned from the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt incident. We must ensure that all our servicemembers know that their civilian leadership has their best interests at heart. To have these cadets lose faith in their
civilian leadership at the beginning of their careers would be an irredeemable loss. There is no need to risk the life of even one cadet for what is nothing more than an exercise in vanity for President Trump.

                   We appreciate your response to our concerns. We understand the strain the Department of Defense is under as it responds to the COVID-19 outbreak and we appreciate all the efforts undertaken by the men and women who serve with you.

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Armed Services, HealthCare, Veterans

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