After defaming a fallen army captain earlier this year, Donald Trump continues to grovel to earn back the vote of Republican veterans and their families.
The GOP candidate took a cheap shot at veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder, in a campaign address held on Monday in Herndon, Virginia.
Trump’s speech covered how veterans’ mental health needs to be better looked after by the federal government, Politico reported. But, his proposed reforms to Veterans Affairs may have fallen upon deaf ears when he decried that soldiers suffering from mental disorders and suicidal thoughts aren’t “strong” and just “can’t handle it.”
The presidential hopeful couldn’t have chosen a worse audience to backstab with this particular sentiment; he was speaking to none other than a group of veterans.
In his speech, he said, “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. And they see horror stories. They see events that you couldn’t see in a movie. Nobody would believe it.”
Trump has little right to pass value judgments onto veterans, or returned soldiers who contemplate or commit suicide. It’s a well-known fact that Trump was a draft-dodger during the Vietnam War, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t empathize with suffering veterans.
After making the speech, Trump's campaign released a bitter statement from retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who wrote that the media distorted Trump's statements in order to "deceive voters and veterans," according to MSNBC.
The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America also issued a statement in response to Trump's attempt at pandering to their demographic.
Paul Rieckhoff, the founder and CEO of IAVA, said, "Terms like 'killing yourself' or 'mental problems,' or any suggestion that suicide only impacts the weak, can promote contagion and may discourage people from getting help for mental health injuries. Getting help for a mental health injury is not a sign of weakness, it's a demonstration of strength."
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