Trump’s re­marks irk some vet­er­ans

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Eli Stokols eli.stokols@la­ Twit­ter: @EliS­tokols

Vet­er­ans ad­vo­cates bris­tle over his com­ments on mil­i­tary ser­vice and the Border­line shooter’s men­tal state.

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Trump de­scribed the ex-Marine in the Thou­sand Oaks mas­sacre as a “very sick guy” on Fri­day, and sug­gested with­out ev­i­dence not only that he had post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der but that com­bat vet­er­ans gen­er­ally re­turn with men­tal health is­sues.

“He was a war vet­eran. He was a Marine. He was in the war. He served time,” Trump said of Ian David Long, who killed 12 peo­ple at the Border­line Bar and Grill on Wed­nes­day night. “He saw some pretty bad things. And a lot of peo­ple say he had the PTSD. And that’s a tough deal.”

The pres­i­dent, speak­ing to re­porters at the White House as he de­parted for a week­end trip to France, then went fur­ther, re­in­forc­ing a stereo­type long chal­lenged by ad­vo­cacy groups: that all com­bat vet­er­ans come home from war suf­fer­ing from men­tal health is­sues.

“Peo­ple come back. That’s why it’s a hor­ri­ble thing,” Trump said. “They come back, and they’re never the same.”

Long, a 28-year-old from New­bury Park who opened fire in the crowded bar be­fore pos­si­bly turn­ing the gun on him­self, was de­ployed for seven months to Afghanistan in 2010 and dis­charged in 2013.

The U.S. Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs has said Long had never en­rolled in its health­care sys­tem, and no ev­i­dence has emerged that he sought treat­ment for or had PTSD.

How­ever, ac­quain­tances have said that Long seemed to strug­gle with men­tal health is­sues af­ter his re­turn from mil­i­tary ser­vice.

In April, a men­tal health spe­cial­ist met with Long af­ter au­thor­i­ties re­sponded to a dis­tur­bance at the home where he lived with his mother, but found no grounds to com­mit him in­vol­un­tar­ily.

Vet­er­ans ad­vo­cates and men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als were left shak­ing their heads at Trump’s com­ments.

“Com­ments like this one from our com­man­der in chief are ex­tremely un­help­ful,” Paul Rieck­hoff, co­founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Vet­er­ans of Amer­ica, wrote in an email. “They per­pet­u­ate a false and dam­ag­ing nar­ra­tive that vet­er­ans are bro­ken and dan­ger­ous.

“Most peo­ple who suf­fer from PTSD, when able to ac­cess ef­fec­tive treat­ment, are able to live healthy, happy, mean­ing­ful lives,” Rieck­hoff wrote.

Depart­ment of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles

IAN DAVID LONG, 28, spent seven months in Afghanistan as a Marine.

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