WASHINGTON (WBTV/AP) - The commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars says Donald Trump's criticism of the parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq is unacceptable.
Brian Duffy, head of the 1.7-million-member VFW, said in a statement Monday that election year or not, the nation's oldest and largest war veterans group will not tolerate anyone berating a Gold Star family member for exercising their free speech.
Gold Star families are those that have lost a close relative in military service.
"Trump has a history of lashing out after being attacked, but to ridicule a Gold Star Mother is out-of-bounds," Duffy said in his statement. "There are certain sacrosanct subjects that no amount of wordsmithing can repair once crossed."
Trump has repeatedly denounced the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, after the father spoke at the Democratic National Convention last week. Khizr Khan said Trump's proposals would have barred his son from immigrating to the United States because they are Muslims.
Trump responded by lashing out at Khan and suggesting that Khans' remarks were actually prepared by Hillary Clinton's campaign. Trump also implied Ghazala Khan did not speak at the convention because she was not allowed to speak as a Muslim woman.
Captain Khan was killed in Iraq in 2004.
Duffy, who was elected July 27 as the national commander of the VFW, said giving one's life to the nation is the greatest sacrifice, followed closely by all Gold Star families who have a right to make their voices heard.
Khizr Khan told CNN Monday that "We want to be out of this controversy. That is not our style...This is not our path." He said "there was no need" for Trump to comment further, saying "We want to maintain our dignity."
Trump and Clinton both spoke at at the 117th VFW National Convention at the Charlotte Convention Center last week.