Karen Vaughn of Stuart was watching when President Donald Trump thanked the widow of a Navy SEAL who died in Yemen recently.
“That’s the way every Gold Star family should feel. Like America cares. That America honors your sacrifice," said Vaughn.
The Vaughn family know sacrifice. Their son Aaron was also a Navy SEAL. He was killed in 2011 when the helicopter he was riding in with 29 others was shot down in Afghanistan. While Vaughn has been openly critical of the government’s role in her son’s death, she remembers President Obama meeting with the grieving families.
“He came and he very warmly and very politely embraced every single family member in that building. I guess he spent hours there. I respect that. I’m thankful that he came. I’m thankful that he showed the respect to our sons," said Vaughn.
Vaughn says it’s sad to see critics come out and accuse Ryan Owens’ widow Carryn of being a political pawn.
“I really hate that tone, people did that to us as well. Anytime we spoke out about something we were passionate about or attended something we were passionate about, people would say we were being used by the right. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Look, that woman paid the ultimate, paid the ultimate sacrifice, she gave this country her husband. She is entitled to an opinion," said Vaughn.
Karen Vaughn met with President Trump leading up to the election and spoke at last year's Republican National Convention.
“I have a lot to say about America and I love the idea that I’ve been given this platform to speak.”
But the heart of her families’ work is to remember Aaron. An annual frogman swim raises money for Operation 300, a camp that provides a respite for children who’ve lost parents in the military.
“When it comes to an American soldier, no one fights with an R or D on their shoulder, they fight with an American flag," said Vaughn.
This years frogman swim will be on Aaron’s birthday June 24th.