Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

General Mattis speaks: Don’t think of vets as victims, do support U.S. involvement abroad and political compromise at home

There recently was a kerfuffle because General James Mattis, the retired Marine officer and aphorist, made some comments that seemed to some people to doubt the existence of PTSD. So I wrote to the general to ask him for a copy of his remarks. He promptly responded, and here they are. Here also is a ...

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

There recently was a kerfuffle because General James Mattis, the retired Marine officer and aphorist, made some comments that seemed to some people to doubt the existence of PTSD.

So I wrote to the general to ask him for a copy of his remarks. He promptly responded, and here they are. Here also is a video of his talk, in which he improvises a bit.

I think his comments on PTSD got misinterpreted a bit. He wasn't saying that PTSD doesn't exist, he more was protesting the use of PTSD to portray vets as victims. He was telling them to be proud of their service.

There recently was a kerfuffle because General James Mattis, the retired Marine officer and aphorist, made some comments that seemed to some people to doubt the existence of PTSD.

So I wrote to the general to ask him for a copy of his remarks. He promptly responded, and here they are. Here also is a video of his talk, in which he improvises a bit.

I think his comments on PTSD got misinterpreted a bit. He wasn’t saying that PTSD doesn’t exist, he more was protesting the use of PTSD to portray vets as victims. He was telling them to be proud of their service.

On U.S. involvement in the world, he wrote in his prepared remarks that "American retreat is not a change that is welcome[d] by thoughtful elements."

On domestic politics, he wrote that in order for our government to function, we need compromise, which he called "a fundamental necessity at the heart of democratic government."

I always find General Mattis interesting and thoughtful. I still wish he had become the commandant. His defenestration at Centcom was I think the worst move the Obama administration has made in the area of military leadership. It was his ouster that made me stop and wonder what these people thought they were doing.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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