Sarah Palin is taking heat from veterans for seeming to point the finger at President Obama over mental issues her son may be dealing with following his Iraq war service.
Her son Track was arrested earlier this week on domestic violence charges, and Palin publicly addressed the case Wednesday during a post-endorsement appearance on the campaign trail for Donald Trump. She appeared to link his alleged behavior to post-traumatic stress disorder – and used it to criticize Obama’s veteran policies.
But Paul Rieckhoff, the head of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), criticized the former Alaska governor’s comments Wednesday night.
He tweeted: “We need more programs and less politics to battle PTSD.”
Speaking with NBC News, he also said, “"It's not President Obama's fault that Sarah Palin's son has PTSD.”
He called PTSD a “very serious problem” and reportedly urged Palin not to “politicize” it.
"I hope this doesn't become a portable chew toy in a political campaign," he said, according to NBC News.
The comments touched off a Twitter exchange with other military servicemembers concerned about Palin’s remarks. One, who identified as a retired Army veteran, said her comments could cause “perceptual problems & future treatment issues” for those diagnosed with PTSD.
Palin addressed the “elephant in the room” – her son’s arrest – at her first stop on the campaign trail for Trump after endorsing him Tuesday.
“My son, like so many others, they come back a bit different,” she said in Tulsa, Okla. “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 have sacrificially given to this country and that starts at the top.”
Palin said military members look at Obama and question whether he knows the sacrifices they make to “secure America and to secure freedoms.”
“So when my own son is going through what he is going through coming back, I can certainly relate with other families who kinda feel these ramifications of some PTSD,” she said.
Track, a 26-year-old Iraq veteran, was arraigned Tuesday on charges of domestic violence assault, interfering with a report of domestic violence crime and possession of a firearm while intoxicated.
According to the police affidavit posted by KTVA-TV, officers were called to the residence Monday night following two 911 calls – the first from Track’s girlfriend and the second from him.
The woman claimed Track had “punched her in the face and that a firearm was involved,” according to police records.
The charges against Track were filed the same day Palin appeared at an Ames, Iowa, rally to endorse Trump, the current GOP frontrunner.