Brig. Gen. Donald C. Bolduc -- The Real Donald, The Real Tough Guy

US Brigadier General Donald C. Bolduc
US Brigadier General Donald C. Bolduc

Donald Trump likes to be hailed as the Donald, but the only thing definite about him, besides his hatred, pathological lying, stupidity and sadism, is that he is a fraud as a man and a fraud as a tough guy.

He likes to surround himself with people like Bob Knight, the former Army, Indiana University and Olympic basketball coach, and Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight boxing champion, but Donald Trump is not and never has been a warrior or a fighter for anything except his own preening, solipsistic needs for trumpeting his name, extending his 15 minutes of infamy and gaining contracts so that he can build shrines to the Trump brand all over the world.

Trump’s fraudulence, to say nothing of his sadism, has never been more apparent than when he denigrates the health of other people.

By now the list is pretty familiar, so here are just a few highlights:

He mocked Serge F. Kovaleski, a New York Times reporter with a disability, a rare congenital disorder that affects, among other things, his ability to use his hand.

He ridiculed Hillary Clinton for stumbling as she got onto a van when she had pneumonia.

And he questioned whether or not our troops are tough enough if they “can’t handle” life when they come back to this country after serving in combat.

Of course, as I have written before, Trump himself got a medical deferment, as well as four academic deferments, which allowed him to duck the Vietnam War.

Yet he had the gall to cast doubt on whether John McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for some five years, was a true war hero.

With all that in mind, I was thrilled to see that the New York Times ran a story this weekend, a Saturday profile, in which its reporter, Dionne Searcey, wrote about Brig. Gen. Donald C. Bolduc, who has served eight, eight!, tours in a war zone and who is a leading advocate on behalf of troops with PTSD.

As Searcey wrote, General Bolduc, a Green Beret, has endured countless traumas on the battlefield, including a helicopter crash and the detonation of a 2,000-pound bomb right by him.

The signs of his trauma have included headaches, lack of balance while walking, insomnia, undoubtedly nightmares, and a “bullet-sized spot on his brain.”

According to Searcey, it took General Bolduc 12 years from the first signs of his trauma to seek help for his PTSD.

Now, the combat veteran, who leads our Special Operations Forces in Africa, “has become an evangelist for letting soldiers know that it is all right to get help for brain injuries and mental health problems.”

As Searcey wrote, one of Bolduc’s missions is to convince soldiers that there is nothing weak about having a mental illness, such as PTSD or depression, and that there is nothing weak about seeking help for such an illness or injury.

I could not agree more.

Through my own articles and speeches, I have been trying to de-stigmatize mental illness for more than a decade, and I have written over the years about the need to support our troops with mental-health and other resources, particularly when they come back from a combat deployment.

In a piece I wrote for the Huffington Post in 2010, titled “Macho Men Get Depressed, Too,” I noted that tough guys from Terry Bradshaw, the Hall of Fame quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, to Winston Churchill, a combat veteran and wartime leader of Great Britain, have suffered from depression.

I pointed out that the high rate of suicides in our military required us to acknowledge the problems of PTSD and depression among our troops, and, at minimum, to send condolence letters to the families of those who have taken their lives.

Of course, the best solution of all is to eliminate the stigma of mental illness and brain injuries, so that our troops seek treatment well before they become suicidal.

Most military suicides occur not in combat but when servicemen and women are back in the United States, when they lack the camaraderie of being in a unit, when some of them no longer feel that they have a sense of purpose in their lives.

General Bolduc is a true American hero, not only because he has served eight tours in combat; he is a true hero to the planet because he is proving that those who grapple with mental illness, whether they are in a combat zone or not, whether they have served in the military or not, should not be viewed as weak, lazy, incompetent or any other negative stereotype out there.

Many people with mental illness have historically been afraid to speak up because of bullies like Donald Trump, who a few years ago castigated President Obama as a “psycho” for his handling of the Ebola crisis.

I know that it is beyond the intellect of Trump, an ignorant man, to recognize the difference between psychosis, a treatable medical condition, from which I have suffered and which entails hallucinations and delusions; and psychopathy, a lack of remorse for the planning and commission of violent acts.

Whatever word or meaning Trump intended, he used the term, “psycho,” to demean, insult and tar President Obama, a healthy man, with a diagnosis that he does not have.

Thankfully, General Bolduc has demonstrated that even if a leader has a diagnosis, like PTSD or depression or psychosis, he or she should not fear coming forward and seeking treatment.

Kudos to the New York Times for running this profile, and kudos to General Bolduc for showing what it means to be a real human being, a real mensch, a real hero, and, yes, the real Donald.

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