Chris Mark is a veteran of the US Marines, co-founder of the Mark Consulting group, and the writer behind the Global Risk Info blog covering various securiity topics—but today, he's one of the most prominent critics of Sarah Palin's recent decision to blame her son's domestic violence on PTSD and President Obama. Usually, Chris and his wife Dr. Heather Mark weigh in on matters of international security or large news stories about the US military, but the recent story of Sarah Palin's response to her son Track's arrest prompted Chris to write an open letter to the briefly-tenured Alaska governor. Here's Mark's letter to Gov. Palin:
Dear Mrs. Palin,
I am a former US Marine and US Navy Officer with a Combat Action Ribbon as well as service connected disabilities. I am also a Republican. I have also served with, and am friends with, dozens of combat veterans who suffer daily from various injuries and wounds to include PTSD. I recently read your comments related to PTSD in which you attempted to excuse your son’s arrest on domestic abuse charges and firearm charges by referencing his supposed PTSD. Based upon your previous comments I am not surprised that you would choose to use this very serious condition as a political football and, once again, attempt to divert blame from your own family’s abhorrent, violent behavior.
In 2014 your entire family was involved in a late night ‘drunken brawl’ at a party in which Track Palin (the accused domestic abuser) was involved in a bloody fight. While you publicly stated how proud you were at your children’s violent actions, maybe this should have been a sign that Track has a problem. It is certainly curious that you did not feel the need to reference his supposed PTSD in this situation and instead stated: “…my kids’ defense of family makes my heart soar!” Maybe, instead of encouraging Track’s violence, you should have taken the opportunity to get him help. Maybe, instead of being the result of PTSD, your son was simply trying to uphold the stated Palin family values and “…make your heart soar” by abusing a woman.
PTSD is stigmatized in the media and not well understood by the general public. An estimated 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the United States. This is nearly 8,000 veterans who take their lives every year. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) stated: “Every day in the United States, 22 veterans succumb to suicide — losing their personal battle to invisible wounds of war.” Veterans who have willingly given so much in service to their country should not have to bear the burden of being further stigmatized by your ignorant and foolish statements.
While I do not propose to speak for all veterans, I am clearly not alone in my views regarding your unfortunate statements. They were unfortunate for the many veterans who face further disdain and discrimination based upon your inaccurate and ignorant portrayal of those who suffer with PTSD as well as the causes of the condition.
While I would personally prefer that you simply avoid public life and simply fade away, if you insist on trying to use your “celebrity status” for a cause, please educate yourself on the facts of PTSD and try to help veterans by using your significant influence in a more productive, and less political manner. There are a number of veteran’s organizations to which you can donate time, money and energy to make a difference.
In case you missed the story, Sarah Palin's son Track, a former Marine, punched his girlfriend in the eye and threatened himself with an AR-15 before police arrived in response to her 911 calls (video below). In response to the arrest, which took place just hours before Palin endorsed Donald Trump in Iowa, Palin cited what she saw as President Obama's attitude problem:
My son, like so many others, they come back a bit different. They come back hardened. They come back wondering if there is that respect for what their fellow soldiers and airmen and every other member of the military have given so sacrificially to this country, and that starts at the top. It isa shame that our military personnel even have to question, have to wonder if they’re respected anymore. It starts from the top. …[it] comes from our own president where 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?
She then finished by urging voters to vote for Donald Trump so soldiers could have a leader they respected.