Apparently intent on destroying whatever chance he has left to win the 2016 presidential election, GOP nominee Donald J. Trump told a gathering of veterans in Virginia that those who return from combat and suffer from PTSD aren’t strong enough to handle the trauma of war.
“[W]hen 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,” the real estate developer said.
Trump went on to talk about his commitment to ensuring that veterans have access to mental healthcare to help them overcome PTSD and depression.
In 1997 Trump, who has never served in the military, boasted to shock-jock talk host Howard Stern that his own ability to avoid catching sexually transmitted diseases is similar to what soldiers experience in war.
“I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world. It is a dangerous world out there. It’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam-era. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”
Trump considers himself to be an equal with “a great and very brave soldier” because he has never gotten an STD.
While the real Vietnam was going on, Trump was busy getting deferments and avoiding the draft. All of which was done legally, but certainly highlights a very different outlook on life than those who actually served, either by their own choice or because they answered their country’s call.
In a remarkable interview with a biographer Trump claimed that he “always felt that I was in the military” because his parents sent him to the New York Military Academy, which The New York Times helpfully notes is an expensive prep school. In Trump’s estimation, his prep school experience gave him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”
Trump’s inability to distinguish real hero from fake hero, and real military service from expensive prep school days of yore has so far not proven fatal to his political prospects. Early in the GOP primary process the New York businessman attacked GOP Sen. John McCain, who was the GOP nominee in 2008 and hasn’t run for president since then, for being captured during Vietnam. “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured,” he declared.
Despite such gaffes and statements, past and present, Trump has secured the endorsement of dozens of retired senior military leaders. While Trump’s personal code of conduct and public statements would appear to clash with a warrior ethos, it is perhaps utter distaste for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton that has led some high profile veterans to back Trump.