The Donald Trump campaign is firing back at the media over a slew of “out-of-context” reports and headlines asserting the Republican nominee took a swipe at veterans suffering from PTSD by suggesting they aren’t “strong” and “can’t handle” the stress of war.
Trump technically said those words during remarks to veterans in Herndon, Va., on Monday. But he did so while addressing how to help veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder and prevent military suicides.
“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,” Trump said Monday.
He went on to say the country needs more mental health help for veterans and vowed to launch a “very robust” effort.
Soon after, BuzzFeed ran a headline that said: “Trump Suggests That Soldiers With PTSD Aren’t ‘Strong.’”
Many other outlets followed suit. The New York Daily News declared: “Donald Trump sparks outrage by suggesting vets with PTSD aren’t ‘strong’ and ‘can’t handle it.’”
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The newspaper reported that, “Some veterans are furious at draft-dodging Donald Trump for suggesting soldiers who develop post-traumatic stress disorder aren’t ‘strong’ and ‘can’t handle it,’ seeing it as the latest in a string of insults toward their military service.”
A Huffington Post column was headlined: “Donald Trump’s Comments On Veteran Suicide Are Exactly Why There’s PTSD Stigma.” The story described it as an “abhorrent comment about mental health” from the GOP nominee.
Some articles cited veterans and veterans’ groups concerned about the tenor of Trump’s remarks, amid comparisons to his infamous and widely criticized dig last year at Sen. John McCain’s time as a prisoner of war.
But others jumped to Trump’s defense, saying his remarks here clearly were taken out of context. The campaign circulated a statement from the Marine staff sergeant who originally asked Trump the question about PTSD.
“I think it’s sickening that anyone would twist Mr. Trump’s comments to me in order to pursue a political agenda,” Chad Robichaux, founder of Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs in California, said in the statement. “I took his comments to be thoughtful and understanding of the struggles many veterans have, and I believe he is committed to helping them.”
Retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, an outspoken Trump booster, said “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.”
He argued Trump was merely “highlighting the challenges veterans face when returning home after serving their country.”
Veterans of Foreign Wars spokesman Joe Davis also put out a brief statement that seemed to agree with Trump’s premise: “It is true that not everyone can handle traumatic events, be it from war, bad car accidents, violent crime or even surviving a hurricane. Regarding veterans, we need to treat those who need help and research how two people experiencing the same time and place can be impacted so differently.”
That didn’t stop Vice President Biden from slamming Trump on CNN.
Speaking Tuesday, Biden called Trump “out of touch” and said: “His ignorance is so profound.”