New records show ex-lawmaker served in combat zones

  • Associated Press
  • Monday, June 13, 2016 12:02pm
  • Local News

TACOMA, Wash. — A former Washington state lawmaker who resigned in February amid concerns that he may have inflated his military combat record has released records that support some of his claims, a newspaper reported Monday.

The records show former state Rep. Graham Hunt, R-Orting, served in combat zones in the Middle East early in the Iraq War, The News Tribune of Tacoma reported.

The new documents show Hunt received three military awards for his service there, although those medals are not the ones that he initially claimed to have received.

“I am a combat veteran, and now I have the records to prove it,” Hunt said, adding that resigning from the Legislature was a mistake.

Hunt, who served in the Air National Guard, had previously referred to himself as a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan but was unable to provide records to support those claims.

The updated records still don’t prove his claims of being wounded in combat and don’t say definitively whether Hunt’s combat experience was serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or another location in support of those wars, the newspaper reported.

He said in an interview that he traveled into Iraq for several days during his documented time serving in Saudi Arabia, but the documents don’t specify where he may have deployed on temporary missions.

Hunt faced scrutiny over his military record after The Seattle Times reported in January that records did not verify his claims of being a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hunt also claimed he received three medals — the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal — that records didn’t show he received. Those medals still don’t appear on his updated discharge documents.

Hunt said he worked for months to clarify his service record and received a corrected copy of his discharge papers June 1.

Mike Dickerson, a spokesman for the Air Force Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas, confirmed the documents are authentic. He said it’s not uncommon for veterans’ records to omit medals they were entitled to receive, and veterans regularly contact the service to ask for updates and corrections.

The former lawmaker also drew scrutiny when a doctored Iraq war photo was posted to his Facebook page in 2014. The post falsely claimed the photo was of him after a mortar attack in 2005. Hunt has said a campaign volunteer had posted it without his knowledge.

Hunt was appointed to the Legislature in 2014 and won election to a full term that November. He told the newspaper that he should have resisted pressure to step down until he could gather his missing service records.

He also said he has been unable to contact people he served with overseas who might be able to confirm his accounts of being wounded.

He declined to sign a release form that would enable The News Tribune to request his medical records from the military.

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