Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is getting flak today for an answer he gave on what he would do to address issues around post-traumatic stress disorder and suicides by military veterans.
“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,” Trump said, speaking Monday morning at a panel for the Retired American Warriors PAC in Virginia.
Trump also said that mental health care for veterans needs to be improved.
“We need mental health and medical, and it’s one of the things that is least addressed and one of the things — one of the things that I hear most about when I go around and talk to the veterans,” he said. “So, we are going to have a very robust, very, very robust level of performance having to do with mental health.”
“We are losing so many great people that can be taken care of if they have proper care,” Trump said.
Reaction was quick on Twitter to the nominee’s remarks, with many users saying a diagnosis of PTSD is no reflection on a person’s strength.
The CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Paul Rieckhoff, tweeted that Trump’s remark “perpetuates stigma.”
Trump also said it “should never be” that 22 veterans per day commit suicide, referring to a 2013 analysis by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs showing 22 veterans dying by suicide each day. A report released Aug. 3 showed that number to be down slightly to 20 veterans committing suicide per day, accounting for 18 percent of all suicides among U.S. adults.
Trump has gotten into hot water with some in the military community before, first after he said in July 2015 that Arizona Sen. John McCain, who spent over five years as a prisoner during the Vietnam War, was “not a war hero.”
“I like people that weren’t captured,” Trump said at the time.
Recently, he criticized Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Gold Star parents of U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan who was killed during the Iraq War in 2004. Trump took aim at Khizr Khan after he criticized the Republican nominee during a speech at July’s Democratic National Convention.