Veterans Respond to Sarah Palin's Comments on PTSD

January 21st 2016

Kyle Jaeger

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin defended her son on Tuesday after reports emerged that he had been arrested on weapons and domestic violence charges. She argued that, like other Iraq veterans, her son suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder — a psychological disorder that affects more than 10 percent of veterans — and that his "woundedness" contributed to the alleged crime. The day after Palin made that statement, however, veterans responded, soundly rejecting the idea that PTSD excused domestic violence.

On Tuesday, 26-year-old Track Palin was arrested after reportedly punching his girlfriend in the face and threatening to shoot himself with an assault rifle. Details about the domestic dispute are unclear, but the incident happened on the same day that Sarah Palin made headlines for her endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, which pushed the arrest into the spotlight.

RELATED: What Happens To Your Mind When You Have PTSD

"My son, like so many others, they come back a bit different," Palin said at a Trump campaign event on Wednesday. "They come back hardened, they come back wondering if there's that respect for what it is their fellow soldiers and airmen and every other member of the military have so sacrificially given to this country."

To some veterans, Palin's remarks appeared to politicize PTSD, a serious mental health issue that affects 11 to 20 out of every 100 veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. While it is true that those who suffer from PTSD are more likely to commit domestic violence, Palin seemed to make a generalization about veterans, while dismissing the victim in her son's domestic violence case.

RELATED: Why This Vet Was Denied Medication Over Marijuana

"Palin is using PTSD as an excuse to shift blame away from her son's domestic violence," Brandon Friedman, the former digital media director for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said. "She never mentioned the actual victim. She portrayed her son as the victim, but never talked about his girlfriend, apparently crying and hiding under a bed because he beat her."

Maj. Ryan Kranc, who is currently serving in Iraq, also weighed in on Palin's statement. He shared his own experience with PTSD on Twitter.

Palin, who had a brief run as a 2008 vice presidential nominee, also appeared to blame President Barack Obama for failing to support veterans as they transition back to civilian life. She said that the problem "starts from the top" — specifically from the president — and that veterans come home wondering if Obama understands what they experience while serving the country.


"I don’t know if the president saw the remarks," White House press secretary John Earnest responded on Thursday. "I can tell you that the reaction of some people is to make light of the rhetoric that we see on the campaign trail, particularly from Gov. Palin, but the fact is domestic violence is not a joke... [I]n this case, the issues she’s talking about are quite serious and certainly issues that we take quite seriously here."

Veterans in crisis and their families are urged to call the Veterans Crisis line at 1-800-273-8255.

h/t The Huffington Post