When Donald Trump promises to improve benefits for veterans, James Jacobs doesn't believe him.
Jacobs is a 62-year-old disabled Vietnam marine veteran himself, serving in the Marine Corps from 1970 to 1978. In Vietnam, Jacobs was a mechanic, performing preventative maintenance on jeeps and trucks in a motor pool warehouse. He fell off a ladder working there, injuring his lumbar region. He now receives non-service connected disability from the government, and his service-connected disability remains pending.
He was also stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, for three years of his service. There, Jacobs was exposed to water contaminated with industrial solvents, benzene, and other chemicals. As a result, he experiences moderate neurobehavioral problems, for which he's gone to 15 years of therapy at the Department of Veteran Affairs and continues to go today. Jacobs' brother, who was stationed at Camp Lejeune with him, has since been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in connection with the contaminated water.
"We bathed in it, drank the water, Kool-Aid and coffee," Jacobs says. "Many of the veterans that were stationed there at that time have conditions – defects. Really horrible. There's been a lot of deaths."
Jacobs says Obama has helped his situation as a disabled veteran a great deal, making healthcare free for any veteran who was stationed at the base during the period of contamination, and offering medical reimbursement and compensation packages.
"He's resolved a lot of the medical issues that we need," Jacobs says. "He made a tremendous help for veterans."
Jacobs doesn't trust that Trump would have done the same.
Despite Trump's promises to help Veterans, Jacobs felt his first hint of distrust when Trump attacked Senator John McCain for being captured in Vietnam, saying, "I like people who weren't captured." Jacobs doesn't buy that Trump would help Veterans as much as he says he would.
"Hillary Clinton is more real," Jacobs says. "She's to the point, without all the riff raff. All the horrible language, you just don't need that in politics. Especially someone running the country."
Today, Jacobs is retired and resides in Compton. He moved to Los Angeles from his hometown, Cincinnati, in 1989 to go to school and find work. He landed a job as a structural mechanic working on aircraft wings for five years. But when his company merged with Boeing, Jacobs lost his job.
He went back to school for an associate's degree in engineering from the Los Angeles Trade Technical College, which he used to open his own business servicing commercial refrigeration units for corporations like McDonalds, Burger King and Taco Bell.
"That's what I enjoy – servicing," Jacobs says. "I'm a service tech. Not an installation. Not an installer."
He's currently working toward his Bachelor of Science degree and hopes to return to his business someday.
In terms of the election, Jacobs says he doesn't fear for the future. He trusts that the American people will make the right decision come November.
"This country is headed toward the right direction," he says. "You gotta have the faith of a mustard seed, that's all. Look on the bright side. Be an optimist, not a pessimist. Keep your head up and don't look back."