Monday, Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, was speaking to a group of veterans about services the vets are entitled to and also took questions from those participating. Trump was asked whether as President he would “support and fund a more holistic approach to solve the problems and issues of veteran suicide, PTSD, [traumatic brain injuries] and other” mental and behavioral health issues facing veterans, as well as if he would “take steps to restore the historic role of our chaplains and the importance of spiritual fitness and spiritual resiliency programs.”
Trump’s reply is causing many to wonder if the GOP nominee really understands what members of the military go through. Trump stated that, “when people come back from war and combat and they see things that maybe a lot of 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 continued touching on the rate of suicides affecting military personnel, “You know when you hear the 22 suicides a day, it’s a 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 going to be addressing that very strongly.”
Trump is correct about the suicide rate of armed service personnel but his remark that a strong person can handle what is seen in combat but then to he said that there are a lot of people who can’t, made the impression that Trump believes PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) only occurs to “weak” personnel. Vice President Joe Biden took great exception at Trump’s remarks stating that “This is an ignorant man. This guy says things he has no idea about. He’s not a bad man. But his ignorance is so profound. So profound.”
Biden related a story of one young man he met when asked to pin a silver medal on a young captain in Iraq. Biden shared that the Captain had pulled someone out of a burning Humvee, risking his own life. Biden explained though, that the captain wondered aloud why he should receive the award when the man he tried to save did not survive. The captain said to Vice-President Biden, “he died, Mr. Vice President. I don’t want the medal.’
Biden continued to speak about the incident with this captain becoming emotional and at a point raising his voice to yell “How many nights does that kid go to sleep seeing that image?” Continuing he yelled “Dealing with it?” “That kid probably goes to sleep every night with a nightmare,” he said. “And this guy doesn’t understand any of that? How can he not understand that? How can he be so out of touch? He’s not a bad guy. But how can he be so out of touch and ask to lead this country?
Trump has said he no way meant that those who suffer from PSTD are weak but it didn’t stop the internet and Twitter from blowing up over it. One tweet that from Evan McMullen who is running as an independent for President tweeted that “Such irony in draft-dodger @realDonaldTrump, a deeply fragile man, asserting that vets with PTSD aren’t strong.” McMullin wasn’t alone, as many veterans weighed in on Trump’s gaffe.