“After 21 years, six months and 10 days of active military service, I am now a civilian. I made the difficult decision to retire because a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation by President Trump and his allies forever limited the progression of my military career,” he wrote in an op-ed with The Washington Post.
Vindman experienced attacks from Donald Trump after he testified before Congress during the American president’s impeachment hearings. His testimony became key in the impeachment inquiry, as he expressed alarm over Trump’s phone call with Ukraine‘s President, Volodymyr Zelensky.
During the phone call, Trump asked Zelensky to open an investigation into political rival Joe Biden.
Vindman’s op-ed went on to warn about the dangers of the Trump administration to those who speak out about the president.
“At no point in my career or life have I felt our nation’s values under greater threat and in more peril than at this moment. Our national government during the past few years has been more reminiscent of the authoritarian regime my family fled more than 40 years ago than the country I have devoted my life to serving,” he wrote.
The Iraq veteran and Purple Heart recipient was born in the Soviet Union but left at the age of three following the death of his mother.
He found himself in the public eye after being assigned to the National Security Council under the Trump administration. Congress subpoenaed Vindman to testify during the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry, making him the first from the White House to speak under oath about Trump.
“During my testimony in the house impeachment inquiry, I reassured my father, who experienced Soviet authoritarianism first-hand, saying, ‘Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth’. Despite Trump’s retaliation, I stand by that conviction,” he wrote.
After Vindman’s testimony, he was denounced by the president and subject to repeated attacks from Republicans.
This summer, his promotion in the army from lieutenant colonel to colonel was delayed, triggering speculation that the president was retaliating against Lt Col Vindman. In July, the day after the Pentagon approved Vindman’s promotion, he submitted a letter of resignation. His retirement came into effect in August.
Vindman decided to resign because he believed that staying would result in more retaliation from the president and allies. Despite losing his career over this “painful” experience, however, he stood by his testimony.
“America has thrived because citizens have been willing to contribute their voices and shed their blood to challenge injustice and protect the nation. It is in keeping with that history of service that, at this moment, I feel the burden to advocate for my values and an enormous urgency to act,” he wrote.
He added, “To this day, despite everything that has happened, I continue to believe in the American Dream.”