On Wednesday, Sarah Palin used her son Track’s issues with PTSD to jab at Obama for not supporting the troops. Not only did one outspoken vet say she went too far – but he had quite a response.
Sarah’s son, Track Palin, is 26 years old and a veteran. After serving in Iraq, he was arrested on charges of domestic assault and possession of a firearm while intoxicated – which he, in turn, said was caused by the inner turmoil of a person struggling with PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition affecting many of the soldiers who served in Iraq as well as in many other arenas.
Sarah Subtly Accuses Obama
Sarah Palin, in the spotlight from her recent endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, subtly blamed her son’s PTSD on President Obama, saying that the president is not taking good enough care of returning veterans. Palin said, “[Veterans] have to question if they’re respected anymore” and that the vets need a leader “who will respect them and honor them.”
A Veteran Responds – But Not How Palin Expects
Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), is not just a CEO of a company that cares about vets; he served himself, as a First Lieutenant and Infantry Rifle Platoon Leader in Iraq. Rieckhoff quickly rebutted Palin’s accusations on January 20th on NBC news.
“It’s not President Obama’s fault that Sarah Palin’s son has PTSD,” he said. “PTSD is a very serious problem, a complicated mental health injury, and I would be extremely reluctant to blame any one person in particular.”
He went on to ask Palin directly to “resist the urge to politicize” PTSD, instead asking Trump to create plans of support for the veterans.
President Obama’s Support of Veterans
Obama’s initiatives have supported veterans immensely; he has increased their ability to get an education, encouraged businesses to hire veterans through tax incentives, even helped health care for those living with PTSD. All these actions prove that he both honors and respects the soldiers. However, even if he had done none of these things, the President could not be held responsible for the soldiers suffering from PTSD due to how one gets PTSD.
Where PTSD Comes From
PTSD is brought on by a traumatic shock or event – not just war. While soldiers commonly experience this mental illness, it can also be brought on by other sudden traumas like rape, sudden loss, or other near-death experiences. When suffering from the illness, the person re-experiences the stressing event over and over again, out of the blue, regardless of time or place. A PTSD sufferer cannot get past the traumatic event on his or her own. It requires a complicated medical plan and team to help the person work through his or her trauma and experiences therein.
A Sad Fact
PTSD has led a lot soldiers to suicide because of their inability to cope with the illness or to move on without it harming their lives as well as the lives of the people around them. One alarming report in 2013 suggested that upwards of 22 veterans a day kill themselves – both for PTSD as well as other causes.
Why It’s Not One Man
These PTSD sufferers need support. They need a team. It is not just one person – in this case, the accused President Obama – who is responsible for helping pull the PTSD sufferer through the stages of a long and complicated medical issue. If it was up to one person, a lot of PTSD sufferers would be relieved to know who that one person was. But it’s not a single person to blame, especially a person who is trying to give these PTSD sufferers the support around them in real, effective ways – by giving them healthcare to work on the issue itself, by giving them training – helping them go back to school – and then helping them get jobs – enticing businesses to hire them even if they are having issues – so the PTSD sufferers can support themselves as they work through a debilitating crisis. This incredible support for them – and pushing to find new ways to treat this disease – is the biggest way to honor them: through actions, not just words. Now it’s up to Palin and pals to create a real rebuttal – because right now, the bar is set, and it’s set pretty high.