The man who wants to be Commander-in Chief just showed his seemingly bottomless ignorance and insensitivity once again. While discussing veterans health care and PTSD, he told a veterans group that “you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it.”
In other words, veterans who have PTSD are “weak.” This isn’t the first time Trump has disrespected the military. He told the family of slain war hero Capt. Humayun Khan that he also “sacrificed” by creating jobs. He said that Sen. John McCain, who was captured, held and tortured by the Viet Cong for over five years, was not a war hero because “I like people who weren’t captured.” He’s also held “benefits” for veterans who never received the money. This has been a theme for Trump. Throughout his campaign, he’s shown a callous disregard for the struggles military men and women go through.
Trump made his comment about PTSD when asked how his administration would approach mental health issues among veterans. Between 11% and 20% of veterans suffer from PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder, which results from traumatic experiences and can affect anyone. Trump has proposed privatizing the VA system, a change strongly opposed by veterans groups. When Mitt Romney suggested it in 2012, the VFW objected, and Romney dropped the idea. But in a speech in Virginia Beach, VA, Trump promised to extensively overhaul the system and proposed a 10-point plan for privatization. Presumably this system would be free to save money by not treating “weak” veterans with PTSD.
And what is Trump’s experience with the military? It’s comprised entirely of deferments. Trump received four 2-S classifications or student deferments, two for his time at Fordham University and two while attending the University of Pennsylvania. After that, he was classified 1-A or available for service. But somehow in 1968, that was changed to 1-Y or able to serve only in war or emergency, although he played tennis, squash and baseball in college. So Trump has no military experience at all. One might ask what he knows about PTSD or anything veteran-related. He’s never had a problem he couldn’t buy his way out of and clearly has no concept of either trauma or sacrifice.
Veterans had a great deal to say in response to Trump’s latest insult. PJ Reikoff, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, quoted President Obama who said, “There’s no weakness in asking for help.” One veteran noted, “The unintended ramifications of Trump saying military personnel who succumb to PTSD are weak makes it harder for any soldier, sailor or Marine to ask for help.” One pointed out that Trump’s handlers are constantly saying, “He didn’t mean it.” Another veteran remarked, “Trump also only likes the veterans without PTSD, not just us vets that weren’t captured.”
Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, wrote, “Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons, and they will follow you into the deepest valley.” But unlike the 5th-century B.C. strategist, Trump has no respect for the military and only uses veterans to peddle his new brand of jingoism. His own words mark him as disparaging, mean-spirited, completely lacking in empathy and ludicrously ignorant.