Beiwel: We can’t blame PTSD on one person

Courtesy of Wiki media commons

Maddy Beiwel

Sarah Palin isn’t all that smart. She’s been bashed repeatedly in the media, and I don’t need to continue the bashing in this column. We’ve all seen the pictures and heard the jokes and sound bytes; she just isn’t a woman made for public speaking. 

But she recently said something that shocked me. In my mind, she stepped over the same line she has so carelessly toed in the past years of her relevancy. 

Here is a little background information: Palin’s son Track allegedly beat his girlfriend before holding an AR-15 assault rifle to his head threatening suicide. Track Palin has served overseas in the military. 

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a terrible and all-too common mental state in the United States. One of the greatest blights in the United States is that our veterans involved in overseas conflict do not have adequate resources to channel their feelings or deal with the transition of conflict to returning home.

Not only have ideas about combat and returning soldiers changed, but the stigma surrounding PTSD has been removed, which has led to an increased interest in support. But these changes are hardly enough. Veterans are shoved to the back burner at all turns by people who are unsure or unwilling to help. 

It’s despicable that Sarah Palin, a politician who should know the limits of one person better than anyone, placed the blame of her son’s supposed PTSD and subsequent domestic abuse partially on the shoulders of our commander in chief. 

While she was careful not to firmly blame President Obama, the words were there almost as clearly as if she had spoken them.

“It starts from the top. The question though it comes from our own president, when they have to look at him and wonder, do you know what we go through, do you know what we’re trying to do to secure America and to secure the freedoms that have been bequeathed us?” Palin said during a rally supporting Donald Trump.

If we try to pin the blame for today’s plight of veterans on a scapegoat, we will continue to drop the ball. Blaming Obama absolves ourselves of blame. Shifting the blame to an entity so far above us politically allows little retribution, and we can feel justified that we are at least doing something by acknowledging the problem, even if we are passing the buck. 

By shifting the blame, we are betraying the 7 to 20 percent of veterans who come back from combat with PTSD. We are using them as ammo against one another in a fight about who cares more. The fact that it is even an issue is disheartening. 

The fact that politicians use the issue to insult each other is sickening. It doesn’t have to be a political issue. In fact, it could be one of the easier issues to cross the political spectrum because it involves people who cross so many economic, racial and social boundaries.

Despite being on opposite sides of the political field, Jeb Bush seemed to come to Obama’s defense, saying he found Sarah Palin’s assessment inappropriate. This statement contradicts Sarah Palin’s claims and defends Obama, who Bush once implied was the other version of Donald Trump. 

Veterans, too, are standing up against the assertion that Obama is to blame for the state of today’s PTSD treatment in America. Some veterans believe Sarah Palin is using their troubles to wipe away the fact that her son is an alleged domestic abuser. 

Sufferers of PTSD may be more likely to harm themselves than others, and Sarah Palin blaming the disorder only furthers the belief that people who suffer from the disorder are violent and frightening to help. Palin has, in a sense, tried to backtrack by saying she “didn’t lay PTSD at the foot of the president.”

Maybe not, but she didn’t lay PTSD at her own foot either, and she didn’t spread the blame. We can’t point fingers because when we do, four fingers point back at ourselves.