As horrendous as Donald Trump’s campaign and rhetoric have been, there are a few lines I didn’t think he would cross. Granted, he set a pretty low bar by announcing his candidacy with comments about Mexicans being criminals and rapists. These comments immediately endeared him to the most deplorable members of the Republican Party, and catapulted him into the media spotlight.
The core of Trump’s support comes from angry white conservatives who believe that both political parties don’t represent them anymore, and they cling to racism, guns, and the idealized fiction of an America that never existed. They love the idea of a strong military, even though Trump has claimed it is in ruins. Trump supporters claim to support our troops, even though they complain bitterly about paying the taxes it takes to take care of an enlisted service member and their family.
This is a presidential candidate who seems excited about the opportunity to use our nuclear arsenal for the first time since WWII. Donald Trump has insulted Senator John McCain, a conservative maverick, by saying he wasn’t a hero because he was captured.
Yet, Trump’s supporters have ignored or cheered his remarks, because he is The Donald – the politically incorrect reality show bigot they’ve been longing for.
Donald Trump didn’t have the balls to serve in our military during Vietnam, or declare himself a conscientious objector as others did. While less-privileged men went off to their deaths, or came home with horrific cases of injuries like PTSD, Trump managed to weasel out of going to Vietnam by claiming he had bone spurs.
PTSD is no joke. I know this all too well, because I have it. If you haven’t experienced this horror, consider yourself lucky. Imagine waking up in the middle of the night covered in your own sweat because of nightmares. Imagine spending your Saturday morning shaking uncontrollably on your bedroom floor, or vomiting in the middle of your work day thanks to a panic attack.
Now, as bad as that is, consider what it is like to have been a member of the military who saw combat. Thousands of our veterans have PTSD, and for some, it will be fatal. My friend Dan who was a military police officer came home from Iraq over a decade ago with PTSD and some horrible stories. On Thanksgiving in 2005, he succumbed to his demons and committed suicide.
Thousands of veterans take their own lives every year, but Donald Trump’s fake machismo and “get tough” campaign message discounts their struggle as not being strong enough to deal. This is a man who tried to have veterans working as street vendors banned from the area of Trump Tower because they were “clogging and seriously downgrading the area.”
Donald Trump couldn’t give two shits about the struggles of the average America, let alone veterans. All he cares about is himself and his brand image, nothing else.
On the behalf of people everywhere who deal with PTSD: Donald Trump, kindly take your campaign and your fake tough guy shtick, turn it sideways, and shove it up your pompous ass.