Trump Says California Shooting Highlights Need To Treat Veterans With PTSD


President Donald Trump has linked the recent mass shooting in California with the need to treat combat veterans suffering with Post Traumatic Stress.

Ex-Marine Ian David Long has reportedly been identified as the gunman who is responsible for the deaths of 12 people in Thousand Oaks California, including Marine veteran Dan Manrique and Navy veteran Telemachus Orfanos. (Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller has effectively excommunicated Long from the Corps by publicly referring to him as an “ex-Marine.”)

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Trump called Long a “very, very mentally ill person,” who had mental health issues stemming from his combat deployment to Afghanistan, underscoring the need to provide funding to treat veterans in need.

“He was a Marine; he was in the war,” Trump said. “He served time. He saw some pretty bad things. A lot of people say he had the PTSD. And that's a tough deal. As you know, I've given tremendous funding to the vets for the PTSD and for general health for PTSD. It's a big problem.

“People come back. That's why it's a horrible thing. They come back, and they're never the same.”

Some veterans advocates took issue with Trump's remarks. Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said that Trump’s remarks portray veterans dealing with mental health issues in a false light.

“Comments like this one from our commander in chief are extremely unhelpful,” Reickhoff told Task & Purpose on Friday. “They perpetuate a false and damaging narrative that veterans are broken and dangerous. Most people who suffer from PTSD, when able to access effective treatment, are able to live healthy, happy, meaningful lives."

“Despite the challenges, and despite the still severely limited resources, post-9/11 veterans soaring as a population thanks to our core resilience and commitment of men and women who self-select to service."

IAVA has its own rapid response referral program to connect veterans with the resources they need, Reickhoff said.

“When veterans with mental health injuries do hurt someone, it's most likely themselves, not someone else," he told Task & Purpose. "We lose 20 veterans and service members to suicide every single day. Which again highlights the critical importance of seamless access to quality and effective care, whether through the Department of Veterans Affairs or elsewhere.”

White House spokespeople did not respond to a request from Task & Purpose to clarify the president’s remarks.

SEE ALSO: After Thousand Oaks Mass Shooting, Experts Warn Against Linking PTSD With Violence


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The U.S. military has pulled about 2,000 troops from Afghanistan over the past year, the top U.S. and coalition military commander said Monday.

"As we work in Afghanistan with our partners, we're always looking to optimize the force," Army Gen. Austin Miller said at a news conference in Kabul. "Unbeknownst to the public, as part of our optimization … we reduced our authorized strength by 2,000 here."

"I'm confident that we have the right capabilities to: 1. Reach our objectives as well as continue train, advise, and assist throughout the country," Miller continued.

The New York Times was first to report that the U.S. military had reduced its troop strength in Afghanistan even though peace talks with the Taliban are on hiatus. The number of troops in the country has gone from about 15,000 to 13,000, a U.S. official told Task & Purpose on condition of anonymity.

Separately, the U.S. military is considering drawing down further to 8,600 troops in Afghanistan as part of a broader political agreement, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters on Oct. 19.

"We've always said, that it'll be conditions based, but we're confident that we can go down to 8,600 without affecting our [counterterrorism] operations, if you will," Esper said while enroute to Afghanistan.

So far, no order has been given to draw down to 8,600 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the U.S. official said.

After President Donald Trump cancelled peace talks with the Taliban, which had been expected to take place at Camp David around the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. military has increased both air and ground attacks.

In September, U.S. military aircraft dropped more ordnance in Afghanistan than they have since October 2010, according to Air Force statistics.

However, the president has also repeatedly vowed to bring U.S. troops home from the post 9/11 wars. Most recently, he approved withdrawing most U.S. troops from Syria.

On Monday, Esper said the situations in Syria and Afghanistan are very different, so the Afghans and other U.S. allies "should not misinterpret our actions in the recent week or so with regard to Syria."