Trump shocked veterans in his offhand response when asked about treating PTSD
Even when Donald Trump is trying to do something good, he can’t help but do something very wrong.
In this case, the Republican presidential nominee was speaking to a group of veterans at the Retired American Warriors PAC when he was asked if he supported increased funding and more holistic approaches to treating PTSD. In a long, rambling response, the nominee appeared to both take a cheap shot at people who have mental health challenges following their time in military service while also going to great lengths to say it’s a problem that needs to be fixed.
First, the bad news. And even for Trump, this is potentially very, very bad. In his response, the real estate mogul who avoided serving in Vietnam after receiving four deferments, appeared to say that those suffering from PTSD aren’t “strong” and “couldn’t handle” what they’d seen in battle:
“When you talk about the mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat — and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over and you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it,” Trump said in comments picked up by Politico. “And they see horror stories. They see events that you couldn’t see in a movie. Nobody would believe it.”
A number of veterans jumped on the comments, saying Trump crossed a line by appearing to suggest that those who suffer from PTSD are not “strong” or “couldn’t handle” their combat experience. And there’s no denying the comments at the very least sound like Trump making a comparative statement between the veterans he was speaking with “strong” and those who theoretically need treatment. Trump adviser and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn disagreed with the framing of the quote, saying it was an attempt by a biased media to distort Trump’s true intention.
The good news is in the larger context, Trump appeared to wholeheartedly support the idea of expanding alternative and holistic approaches to treating PTSD along with simply expanding resources to cut down on the wait time that so many veterans experience when attempting to receive critical care.
“So we’re gonna have a very, very robust — very, very robust — level of performance having to do with mental health. We are losing so many great people that can be taken care of if they had proper care,” Trump said. “You know, when you hear the 22 suicides a day — big part of your question — but when you hear the 22 suicides a day, that should never be. That should never be. So we’re gonna be addressing that very strongly, and the whole mental health issue is going to be a very important issue when I take over, and the VA is going to be fixed in so many ways, but that’s gonna be one of the ways we’re gonna help, and that’s in many respects going to be the No. 1 thing we have to do because I think it’s really been left behind.”
That all sounds great and it certainly seems to buffer Trump against accusations of disrespecting veterans. But let’s not forget this is the same guy who mocked war hero and fellow Republican John McCain for being a POW, saying at the time, “I like people who weren’t captured.” And the same Trump who once called avoiding STD’s while being single “my personal Vietnam.”