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Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump raised eyebrows among many veterans Monday morning during a campaign appearance with the Retired American Warriors PAC in Virginia.
Trump was asked about treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and military suicide. Here’s the quote that got him in trouble:
"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."
Evan McMullin, an independent conservative candidate for president who served with the CIA, said on Twitter that Trump’s remarks “aren’t just insulting, they’re dangerous.”
The key issue here is that Trump associates not having PTSD with being “strong.”
That rhetoric paints people who have been through traumatic events as “weak” rather than people who are having naturally recurring symptoms surrounding their traumatic event and need some help.
Paul Rieckhoff, the executive director and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, tweeted about how such language can “discourage people from getting help for mental health injuries.”
“Getting help is a sign of strength,” he wrote.
Last year, Task & Purpose called the perception that PTSD was a sign of mental weakness the number one myth surrounding the disorder. The piece was written by Pamela Holtz, a U.S. Army Reserve officer pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of North Texas, who specializes in combat trauma, military sexual trauma, and stigma.
"Developing PTSD is not a sign of weakness, be it mental weakness or weakness of character,” Holtz wrote. “It is an understandable human response to uncommon experiences.”
In response to the criticism surrounding his remarks, the Trump campaign released a statement through a surrogate, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
“The media continues to operate as the propaganda arm of Hillary Clinton as 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 length to carry water for their candidate of choice,” Flynn said, as quoted by Politico. “Mr. Trump was highlighting the challenges veterans face when returning home after serving their country. He has always respected the service and sacrifice of our military men and women—proposing reforms to Veteran Affairs to adequately address the various issues veterans face when they return home.”
Trump himself never served in the military, receiving four draft deferments for college during the Vietnam War, and one for heel spurs in his feet, a condition that never appeared to plague him before and has not appeared in medical records since.
In a 1997 interview with radio host Howard Stern, Trump referred to his ability to not contract sexually transmitted infections in his dating life to service in Vietnam.
“I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world. It is a dangerous world out there — it’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam era,” Trump said. “It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”
The Taliban may not have breached the walls of Bagram, but they damaged the hell out of its main passenger terminal
Blasts from Taliban car bombs outside of Bagram Airfield on Wednesday caused extensive damage to the base's passenger terminal, new pictures released by the 45th Expeditionary Wing show.
The pictures, which are part of a photo essay called "Bagram stands fast," were posted on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service's website on Thursday.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Shortly after seven sailors died aboard USS Fitzgerald when she collided with a merchant ship off Japan in 2017, I wrote that the Fitzgerald's watch team could have been mine. My ship had once had a close call with me on watch, and I had attempted to explain how such a thing could happen. "Operating ships at sea is hard, and dangerous. Stand enough watches, and you'll have close calls," I wrote at the time. "When the Fitzgerald's investigation comes out, I, for one, will likely be forgiving."
So, am I forgiving? Yes — for some.
Editor's note: a version of this story first appeared in 2015.
Most people haven't heard of an elderly Belgian-Congolese nurse named Augusta Chiwy. But students of history know that adversity and dread can turn on a dime into freedom and change, and it's often the most humble and little-known individuals who are the drivers of it.
During the very darkest days of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, Chiwy was such a catalyst, and hundreds of Americans lived because of her. She died quietly on Aug. 23, 2015, at the age of 94 at her home in Brussels, Belgium, and had it not been for the efforts of my friend — British military historian Martin King — the world may never have heard her astonishing story.
More than $20 million of the Pentagon aid at the center of the impeachment fight still hasn't reached Ukraine.
The continued delay undermines a key argument against impeachment from President Trump's Republican allies and a new legal memo from the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Average pay, housing and subsistence allowances will increase for members of the military in 2020, the Pentagon announced Thursday.