Former 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin attacked Democratic leadership with outlandish claims during her endorsement of Donald Trump last Tuesday at Iowa State University. Palin blamed President Obama for her son Track’s alleged Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and related arrest on domestic violence charges. Shortly before the televised endorsement 26-year-old Track, who served in the Marines under Pres. George W. Bush — not Obama as Palin implied, was allegedly arrested for punching his girlfriend in the eye, kicking her and turning a gun on himself. The former Alaska governor attempted to deflect attention from her son’s actions, accusing Pres. Obama of being insensitive toward the sacrifices of military members and having a record of veteran neglect.
“My son, like so many others, they come back a bit different, they come back hardened, they come back wondering if there is that respect for what it is that their fellow soldiers and airmen and every other member of the military so sacrificially have given to this country. . .That comes from our own president, where they have to look at him and wonder, ‘Do you know what we go through? Do you know what we’re trying to do to secure America?. . .“Everything starts at the top and he’s the president. All you have to do is look at the Veterans Administration and look at the bad . . . care our vets get.”
Palin linking her son’s domestic violence charges and PSTD to the President offended many Americans, but was particularly upsetting to some veterans.
Chris Mark, a Republican and former decorated vet weighed in on the controversy by writing a scathing open letter to Palin that simultaneously addressed the seriousness of PTSD, a “not well understood” mental illness that leads sufferers to suicide daily. Mark, co-founder of the Mark Consulting Group and writer at the Global Risk Info blog, noted the Trump backer’s attitude perpetuates discrimination against vets with PTSD. He said rather than encouraging her son’s violence Palin should get Track some help. The letter is available here in its entirety:
Dear Mrs. Palin,
I am a former US Marine and US Navy Officer with a Combat Action Ribbon as well as service connected disabilities. I am also a Republican. I have also served with, and am friends with, dozens of combat veterans who suffer daily from various injuries and wounds to include PTSD. I recently read your comments related to PTSD in which you attempted to excuse your son’s arrest on domestic abuse charges and firearm charges by referencing his supposed PTSD. Based upon your previous comments I am not surprised that you would choose to use this very serious condition as a political football and, once again, attempt to divert blame from your own family’s abhorrent, violent behavior.
In 2014 your entire family was involved in a late night ‘drunken brawl’ at a party in which Track Palin (the accused domestic abuser) was involved in a bloody fight. While you publicly stated how proud you were at your children’s violent actions, maybe this should have been a sign that Track has a problem. It is certainly curious that you did not feel the need to reference his supposed PTSD in this situation and instead stated: “…my kids’ defense of family makes my heart soar!” Maybe, instead of encouraging Track’s violence, you should have taken the opportunity to get him help. Maybe, instead of being the result of PTSD, your son was simply trying to uphold the stated Palin family values and “…make your heart soar” by abusing a woman.
PTSD is stigmatized in the media and not well understood by the general public. An estimated 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the United States. This is nearly 8,000 veterans who take their lives every year. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) stated: “Every day in the United States, 22 veterans succumb to suicide — losing their personal battle to invisible wounds of war.” Veterans who have willingly given so much in service to their country should not have to bear the burden of being further stigmatized by your ignorant and foolish statements.
While I do not propose to speak for all veterans, I am clearly not alone in my views regarding your unfortunate statements. They were unfortunate for the many veterans who face further disdain and discrimination based upon your inaccurate and ignorant portrayal of those who suffer with PTSD as well as the causes of the condition.
While I would personally prefer that you simply avoid public life and simply fade away, if you insist on trying to use your “celebrity status” for a cause, please educate yourself on the facts of PTSD and try to help veterans by using your significant influence in a more productive, and less political manner. There are a number of veteran’s organizations to which you can donate time, money and energy to make a difference.
GOP front runner Trump later told CNN Palin addressed the incident on the stump per his suggestion and he agreed the President was at fault for Track’s actions.