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Why Sarah Palin needs to be held accountable for her statements on veterans

My work as a marriage and family therapist in Scottsdale, Arizona helps to  instill hope and change through the use of techniques including: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Parenting Skills Training, and Brief Solution focused therapy. I u...

Sarah Palin's comments on military veterans are irresponsible

Sarah Palin implies that her son, a veteran of the Iraq war, suffers from PTSD. Instead of giving useful advice for veterans who are returning home and might benefit from mental health care, Palin appears to harbor blame in the wrong place.

More: What if we tweeted our mental health issues like we do our head colds?

An ABC News report tells us what Sarah Palin’s son was charged with: “Track Palin, 26, was arrested Monday night in Wasilla, Alaska. An Iraq veteran who enlisted in the Army Sept. 11, 2007, Track Palin was charged with three misdemeanors, including assault, interference with the reporting of a domestic violence crime and weapons possession while intoxicated, according to Alaska court records.”

The news report talks about how Palin claims President Obama deserves some of the blame for the psychological condition of veterans: "They come back hardened. They come back wondering if there is that respect for what it is that their fellow soldiers and airmen and every other member of the military, so sacrificially have given to this country, and that starts from the top." Palin said, adding, "it is now or never for the sake of America’s finest that we have that commander in chief who will respect them and honor them.”

Sarah Palin did not mention once, as she was endorsing Donald Trump for president, that the key to helping war veterans is through mental health care, community resources and support systems.

More: How to find the right type of therapy for you

If Sarah Palin had concerns about her son being affected by his time in Iraq, why does she not suggest mental health services to help him work through PTSD and domestic violence issues? She had an opportunity to educate the public on some serious issues and could have used that time to suggest some appropriate resources.

PTSD as defined by the DSM-5 as Diagnostic criteria for PTSD includes a history of exposure to a traumatic event that meets specific stipulations and symptoms from each of four symptom clusters: intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood and alterations in arousal and reactivity. The sixth criterion concerns duration of symptoms; the seventh assesses functioning; and the eighth criterion clarifies symptoms as not attributable to a substance or co-occurring medical condition.

Political public figures should be held accountable for the things they say in public. Just recently, I wrote about the poor parenting advice Senator Ted Cruz gave to the public, and here is yet another example of a public figure not being responsible with their words.

All veterans should be honored for their duty, but it is shameful that a public figure facing a domestic violence situation in her family would not mention mental health care for veterans, domestic violence resources or give the public any kind of community resources for those suffering from mental illness. Instead, upon telling the public about her son’s domestic violence arrest, Palin according to The Daily Beast is "pinning it on lack of respect for military veterans.” 

She does not appear to put the blame on her son who committed the act of violence, nor does she educate the public on what to do if you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation. She does not recommend utilizing mental health resources or give out any local or national resources for any of these issues.

Resources for veterans

  • Veterans Crisis Line available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 (Spanish/Español 1-888-628-9454). Veterans press “1” after you call. You can also chat live online with a crisis counselor 24/7 by visiting the Veterans Crisis Line website.
  • National Call Center for Homeless Veterans: If you are a Veteran who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, you can contact the National VA Call Center 24/7 at 1-877-424-3838 (also intended for Veterans families, VA Medical Centers, federal, state and local partners, community agencies, service providers and others in the community). You can also chat live online 24/7 through the Homeless Veterans Chat service.

  • DoD/VA Suicide Outreach: Resources for Suicide Prevention: You will find ready access to hotlines, treatments, professional resources, forums and multiple media designed to link you to others.

  • DCoE Outreach Center: The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) runs a resource center that provides information and resources about psychological health (PH), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injury (TBI). The center can be contacted 24/7 by phone at 866-966-1020, by e-mail at resources@dcoeoutreach.org, or you can also go to DCoE Outreach Center Live Chat.

  • Military OneSource: Military OneSource is a free service provided by the Department of Defense to Service Members and their families to help with a broad range of concerns. Call and talk anytime, 24/7 at 1-800-342-9647.

  • National Resource Directory (NRD): The NRD is a website for connecting wounded warriors, Service Members, Veterans, and their families with those who support them.

More: The best resolution you can make for you mental health

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