North Texas veterans are reacting to Sarah Palin's recent comments regarding her son, soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and her perceived a lack of respect show by President Barack Obama to returning service members.
"My first reaction to that was disgust that someone would bring their son's personal life into the political spotlight," said Stephen Smith. "Especially someone who is going through trauma of their own."
At a rally Wednesday in Tulsa, Palin discussed the "elephant in the room," referring to her son's recent arrest for domestic violence. She referenced understanding what other families go through with soldiers returning home to suffer from PTSD.
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"I guess my main thought is so often in the media PTSD is brought up in a negative light, especially in a situation like this when it's a violent form of PTSD. Not all PTSD is violent," said James Jeffers.
Some veterans groups have questioned how Palin used her son's arrest and PTSD to point fingers at the president.
"I don't think publicizing that is going to help the individual solider any more at all really," Jeffers said. "And then of course blaming the government blatantly for everything that is wrong for everybody that comes back from combat isn't the right answer either. There is plenty of stuff they could be doing, support-wise, through the VA to revamp and provide better services for veterans. You can't point a finger instead do something positive."
Smith and Jeffers co-founded an organization designed to help returning service members cope with life as a civilian. Farmers Assisting Returning Military works closely with veterans, some of whom suffer from PTSD. They believe believe Palin missed an opportunity to highlight what is being done to help and call for more meaningful help.
"There is tons of great stuff going on in the private sector, most of it's veteran run and veteran created," Jeffers said.
The pair believes the manner in which Palin addressed PTSD was unproductive, and they worry it could extend a stigma to all veterans.
"That stereotypical, 'Oh, my gosh, that veteran has PTSD. Stay away, keep your kids away.' That type of stuff," Jeffers said. "It just compounds that image of veterans having real life struggles that may or may not be as serious as most of the cases they portray."