I confess that I am not a great fan of Sarah Palin. Part of me thinks she embodies everything that is wrong with political discourse today, though I am grateful for her return to the media spotlight in the perverse way that one has when witnessing clowns engaged in a custard pie fight on a burning train careening towards a collapsed bridge. in other words, it’s difficult to parse the horrific from the entertaining.
One thing I didn’t know about Palin was that she is a military mom. That came to the spotlight this week when her son, a US Army reservist and Iraq war veteran, was arrested on 18 January after being charged with domestic assault and weapons possession while intoxicated. There’s a bit of a fact sheet on this here.
The only reason I am mentioning any of this here is that Ms. Palin went public this week and appeared to shield her son from responsibility by blaming neglct President Obama and the US government for neglecting US veterans with PTSD.
“It’s a shame that our military personnel even have to wonder, if they have to question, if they’re respected anymore,” the former Alaska governor said. “The question, though — that comes from our own president, where they have to look at him and wonder, do you know what we go through?”
These comments prompted a ton of comments from the US Army people I follow on Twitter, who noted with varying degrees of outrage that PTSD was never a blanket excuse for personal responsibility. Others felt that by invoking the stereotype of the “damaged vet”, Palin had reinforced public suspicion that veterans are inherently violent and unstable.
As an alternative to that stereotype, I refer you to this thoughtful article, which includes some voices of veterans who have successfully confronted their own PTSD.
Bottom line: Ms. Palin got it wrong about PTSD. While she may feel protective of her son, he bears responsibility for addressing his condition, and his family has enjoyed the financial means to seek treatment above and beyond what may be provided. Using this issue politically, and blaming the government while ignoring the battered girlfriend, has no part of honesty, honour, or decency.