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Trump trying to stay awake to listen to question from a veteran.


Monday, we wrote about Donald Trump saying this to a newly formed wingnut PAC calling itself a veterans' group:

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 you couldn’t see in a movie, nobody would believe it …

At the time, we were slightly annoyed that the media was running off with the idea that Trump had just called veterans pussies, when it seemed he really wasn't trying to say that at all. We pointed out that Donald Trump speaks on the grade level of an illiterate wombat, but that at least this time, it seemed he was trying to express empathy. We argued that Donald J. Trump is perfectly capable of stepping on his own dick, without the media giving him any ammunition for his constant whining that they (and pageant queens and Gold Star families and debates and microphones and American democracy) are #rigged against him.

We weren't the only ones who noticed that, so likewise, we must say we weren't the only ones to miss something in what Trump said, something more nuanced, something that REALLY fucking pissed veterans the fuck off, namely, the word "strong." As in some people are strong, some people (with PTSD) are not. It may not have been what he meant to say, but it betrayed Trump's fundamental ignorance about what the hell PTSD is, and how it destroys lives.

To explain why, let's hand the mic to Vice President Joe Biden, whose late son Beau served in Iraq:

[Trump] said to a group of veterans, and I'm quoting ... "When you talk about mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat, they see things that maybe a lot of folks in this room have seen many times over." And then he points out to the veterans in the room and he says, "And you're strong. You can handle it. But a lot of people can't handle it." Where in the hell is he from? ... This is deadly earnest.

My son spent a year in Iraq, came back a highly decorated veteran, Bronze Star and a lot else. I've been in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan over 29 times. I found myself in Iraq being asked by [a four-star general] to pin a silver medal on a young captain who had pulled someone out of a burning Humvee, risking his life. And when I went to pin it on him in front of the entire brigade, he stood and looked at me and said, "Sir, I don't want the medal. I don't want the medal." You know why? He said, "He died. He died, Mr. Vice President. I don't want the medal!"

[Biden is yelling now.]

How many nights does that kid go to sleep, seeing that image in his head, dealing with it?! I have a card I carry with me ... every single day I have my staff contact the Defense Department early in the morning ... there's a black box in the bottom of it, and it lists "U.S. Daily Troop Update." U.S. troops died in Afghanistan and Iraq. [Reading from the card.] Six-thousand seven-hundred fifty-three! Not "plus six thousand," not "6700," six-thousand seven-hundred fifty-three! Because every one of those warriors left behind an entire family, a community, for us! Every one of them! 52,419 wounded, but as a veteran can tell you, over 200,000 coming home with unseen wounds! How many suicides a month?

OK, pause button. Because even Joe Biden noticed what we noticed, that it didn't actually seem like Trump was TRYING to shit on veterans. It's just that Trump is such a fucking know-nothing loose cannon that his words DID do damage:

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. We have obligations to the elderly and the poor -- that's the only SACRED -- SACRED! -- obligation we have.

Biden added, "It's not that he just doesn't get it. He has no interest in finding out!" So maybe Trump should refrain from commenting on matters outside his wheelhouse, like PTSD and veteran suicides (and for that matter how to do business or be president of America). Just a thought!

Some facts, from a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs:

Roughly 20 veterans a day commit suicide nationwide, according to new data from the Department of Veterans Affairs — a figure that dispels the often quoted, but problematic, “22 a day” estimate yet solidifies the disturbing mental health crisis the number implied.

In 2014, the latest year available, more than 7,400 veterans took their own lives, accounting for 18 percent of all suicides in America. Veterans make up less than 9 percent of the U.S. population.

And when PTSD is added in as a factor, the risk for veterans goes up quite a lot.

Rachel Maddow examined this on Monday night's show, and her website argues that Trump's answer "not only demonstrated his ignorance but was actually damaging to the cause of destigmatizing PTS and mental health for veterans, and getting them the help they need and deserve." Rachel expanded on this in the segment:

That equation of "strong" people not needing help, "strong" people being able to handle it, and people who are presumably not strong not being able to handle it? That is a construction around mental health, that is a stigmatizing framework for talking about mental health and post-traumatic stress and suicide prevention, that veterans and every responsible person near that field has been trying desperately to undo for years now.

That's like the One Thing You Don't Say, if you know anything about this issue, if you have ever talked to anybody involved in it, if you have ever taken it seriously. That's the framework that they have been trying to undo any way they can.

And that's what Trump did. Rachel Maddow says many people (yr Wonket included) noted that it didn't seem like Trump wasn't trying to hurt feelings. But in focusing on that point, we were eliding a much more important point about the fight against PTSD and veteran suicides. So this isn't a mea culpa, we guess, but more a WeMissedThePoint-A. Our bad!

Watch the video, because we said so:

The veteran who asked Donald Trump that question says he wasn't offended or hurt by Trump's answer. But a lot of veterans and their families were, and we're pretty fucking sure we should listen to them.

So good job, Donald Trump. You've done gone and pissed off millions of people, many of whom support Hillary Clinton and many of whom support you. We'll see how those numbers end up panning out on election day, won't we?

[Deadspin / Military Times / The Rachel Maddow Show]

Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the senior editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

Follow him on Twitter RIGHT HERE.

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