By: Donna Freydkin
He’s insulted women, Latinos and Muslims, and admitted to not paying taxes.
This week, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump started his latest media maelstrom with his comments about veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“When you talk about the mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat and they see things that maybe a lot of 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. They see horror stories, they see events you couldn’t see in a movie, nobody would believe it,” Trump said Monday, during an event at the Retired American Warriors PAC, in Herndon, Virginia.
His comments were roundly slammed. But director Tom Donahue, producer Ilan Arboleda, and veteran William Rodriguez, who released their new film, “Thank You for Your Service,” have a slightly more nuanced view.
“We’re very happy that mental health is being talked about,” says Donahue.
The documentary tells the story of four struggling Iraq War veterans, including Rodriguez.
“I think this is an issue that has been silent for far too long,” says Rodriguez. “This is an issue that is bipartisan and most people care about veterans’ mental health.”
Was he upset by Trump’s opinion? Not so much.
“It was, it is what it is. He doesn’t really come from a military family,” says Rodriguez. “So I wasn’t very shocked. Very little that he says shocks me. I care that he’s talking about this issue. He’s willing to engage in the conversation. It’s one step forward.”
Donahue also released the following statement:
“Donald Trump’s comment about U.S. service members taking their own lives draws attention to the mental health crisis that continues to plague our military heroes and their families. The way that returning service members receive mental healthcare is grossly inadequate, and unfortunately, we are all too familiar with the tragic consequences that result from this lack of care. The first step towards solving this crisis is to create a Behavioral Health Corps, a single, unified corps that adequately addresses and provides access to the urgent and critical mental health needs of our nation’s heroes. Mental health must be made a priority on par with physical health or this crisis will continue.”