Trump insults military vets with PTSD, calling them 'not strong'

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump © Mike Segar
The Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, told an audience of military veterans that those members who developed mental health issues did so because they were not “strong” and “can’t handle it.” The comments prompted a massive backlash on Twitter.

“When you talk about the mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat, 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,” the five-time Vietnam draft deferrer Donald Trump told an audience of military veterans at an event in northern Virginia on Monday. “And they see horror stories, they see events that you couldn’t see in a movie – nobody would believe it.”

Those remarks started a volley of tweets.

Mister Megative, a US Marine, said he had PTSD and served seven tours of duty in two theaters of war.

Vet Ramond03 who lives with PTSD.

Military spouses weighed in.

A soldier who avoided Facebook in order not to learn about those he served with had died

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton subverted his comment towards her own use.

An Iraq Veteran with PTSD concluded: "Trump is a moron."

Mental health issues such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder have been stigmatized for decades causing many people not to seek help when they needed it the most. Mental health advocates trying to overturn the stigma have found it most pernicious in the military where asking for help is seen as weak and yet suicides are prevalent among military veterans, with available statistics suggesting more than 20 a day end their lives.

Vice President Joe Biden lambasted Trump  for his statement, losing his usual cool as he spoke about his son Beau, who served in Iraq.

Where in the hell is he from? No, no, no, no. This is deadly earnest,” Biden started his speech. He went on with an emotional account of a young captain who refused a medal because his friend who he tried to save died.

“What are the chances Trump honors commitment to those who are wounded? It’s not just that he doesn’t get it. He doesn’t want to find out,” Biden said.

It is not the first time Trump has insulted military veterans. In July 2015, he challenged the Vietnam War service credentials of Senator John McCain (R, Arizona).

“He’s a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said during an interview in Ames, Iowa. “I like people who aren’t captured.”

McCain ended up in a Hanoi POW camp after his Navy dive bomber was shot down in 1967. He broke both arms and a leg as he ejected. He endured enormous pain and torture and spent over five years in captivity.

Trump’s draft deferment has also attracted people’s attention.
Ronald Kuby, a criminal and civil rights lawyer and talk show host on WABC-AM in New York City, said Trump had multiple student deferment and he finally got a medical exemption that staved off the draft to Vietnam.

Trump “was a Vietnam draft dodger,” Kuby said. “I use the term broadly to mean anyone who took advantage of deferments to avoid being drafted.”
Trump had the opportunity to volunteer to serve in Vietnam, but he did not.

Trump told the audience the suicides often occur because veterans are not able to quickly made an appointment for “what could be a simple procedure, a simple prescription.”

After the Twitter backlash started trending, his campaign defended the comments and accused the media of taking them out of context and acting as the propaganda arm of Democratic president candidate Hillary Clinton.

“[They] took Mr. Trump’s words out of context in order to deceive voters and veterans – an appalling act that shows they are willing to go to any lengths to carry water for their candidate of choice,” said Lt. General Michael Flynn, a top advisor to Trump, according to the Washington Post. “Mr. Trump was highlighting challenges veterans face when returning from after serving their country.”

Which started another backlash.