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Northeast Wisconsin lawmaker, Gold Star mom weigh in on Trump call

Gold Star mother Beth Karlson speaks with FOX 11's Ben Krumholz on October 20, 2017. (Photo credit: WLUK)

SHAWANO COUNTY (WLUK) -- A Gold Star mother from Shawano County and Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher shared their thoughts with FOX 11 on the criticism of President Donald Trump’s treatment of Gold Star families.

Trump has been criticized for allegedly telling a widow of a fallen soldier that he "knew what he signed up for." The claim is from Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Democrat from Florida, who says she was in the car with the widow at the time of the call.

It's been 14 years since Beth Karlson, who lives just south of Shawano, first heard from President George W Bush after her son, Staff Sgt. Warren Hansen, was killed while serving in Iraq.

“It's not an easy position for them to be in,” said Karlson. “I don't care if you're Democrat, Republican, whatever, it's not an easy position.”

Karlson says she initially received a letter from Bush, but later met him twice in person, including one private conversation in Green Bay.

“That was 25 minutes of just Jim and I and President Bush in the room, face-to-face, holding my hand the whole time he talked with us,” said Karlson.

Karlson believes it is disrespectful for anyone to listen in on a moment like that. That's the same stance White House Chief of Staff and Gold Star father John Kelly had when he came to President Trump's defense.

Congressman Mike Gallagher, who served in the Marines, believes Kelly's message was spot on.

“I thought he really exposed sort of the bankruptcy of the hysteria about this over the last week,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher believes it should be up to each President how he or she reaches out to a fallen military member's family.

“Most Presidents do not call the families of the fallen,” said Gallagher. “That is a very difficult conversation to have and it's honestly something that there are no words to lessen the burden that any family is feeling at that moment.”

“It depends on a person's personality and how comfortable they are in a situation, but I do believe the families deserve some personal attention from the President,” said Karlson.

Karlson says, above all, it's important to remember the attention should be on the person who gave their life for our country.

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