On Monday, while speaking with veterans in Herndon, Virginia at an event hosted by Retired American Warriors, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump suggested that military veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or who commit suicide are weaker than those who don’t.
Trump’s comments came during the question and answer session at the event.
After pointing out that there are on average nearly 22 suicides a day among veterans, Trump said:
“When people come back from war and combat and they see maybe what the people 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. They see horror stories, they see events that you couldn’t see in a movie, nobody would believe it.”
Now we need a mental health help and medical, and it’s one of the things I think is least addressed and it’s one of the things I hear … most about when I go around and talk to veterans.”
Trump actually obtained four deferments from the Vietnam War draft before he was medically disqualified from serving in the military in 1968.
The Camp Hope PTSD Foundation tweeted, apparently in response to Trump, that “Some of the strongest people you will ever meet are veterans facing PTSD head on.”
— PTSD Foundation (@ptsdusa) October 3, 2016
Buzzfeed News reported that Jon Stoltz, an Iraq War veteran and the chairman of the Vote Vets organization sent Buzzfeed a statement “calling Trump’s remarks ‘horrible’ but ‘not shocking.'”
“We’re taling about a person, in Trump, who believes that POWs aren’t real heroes,” referencing Donald Trump’s statement last year that Senator John McCain was not a hero because he had been captured during the Vietnam War, and that he did not consider troops who get captured heroes.
Trump also attacked a Gold Star family earlier this summer and at one point called his work in building structures and employing people as sacrifices, and went further to say that those ‘sacrifices’ were comparable to those make by Gold Star families who lost their loved ones in war.
Stoltz continued, “The constant disrespect Donald Trump shows toward our veterans and service members is sickening, and completely and totally disqualifying.” Other veterans groups had similar comments.
During a campaign stop for Hillary Clinton in Sarasota, Florida, Vice President Joe Biden spoke about Trump’s comments. “Where in the hell is he from?” Biden said before mentioning his recently deceased son, Beau, who was a veteran. Biden continued:
“I don’t think he was trying to be mean. He is just so thoroughly, completely uninformed … We only have one sacred obligation, to care for those we send to war and to care for them and their families when they come home.”