Politics & Government

McConnell's military discharge once again an election issue

PARIS, Ky. — A prominent Democrat questioned Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell's military service — specifically his discharge from the Army Reserve — as McConnell launched his latest commercial Tuesday criticizing veterans' health clinics with ties to his Democratic opponent.

Democratic state Rep. Greg Stumbo, the former Kentucky attorney general, called on McConnell to release his military discharge records.

"Elections should be about informed choices. He's obviously not proud of his record, Sen. McConnell isn't, or he would have shown it by now," Stumbo said. "Something isn't correct about it that might cause a lot of people, including veterans, to take a second look at him."

McConnell enlisted in the Army Reserve in July 1967 at the height of the Vietnam War but received a medical discharge after less than six months for an eye condition called optic neuritis, according to limited information that has been made public.

Questions about McConnell's military service have popped up toward the end of each of McConnell's last three elections.

After his 2002 opponent, Lois Combs Weinberg, claimed McConnell might have received "preferential treatment," the Herald-Leader reported that McConnell's eye problems led to a hospitalization before McConnell enlisted in the Army Reserve, and that the condition has flared up occasionally since then.

"If Lunsford wants to question the senator's honorable discharge, the Army's decision and the Herald-Leader's 2002 reporting on this subject, he should do it himself and not hide behind surrogates," said Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell in Washington.

Read the full story at newsobserver.com.