David Barton Inflates Numbers for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Women

Yesterday, David Barton’s Wallbuilders radio program hosted Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatricians. Barton and his co-host Rick Green once mistakenly called ACP the “leading association” of pediatricians.

Cretella was on the program to tout the ACP’s stance on transgender issues; I may have more to say about her interview in subsequent posts. However, after the interview, Barton made a claim which he offered as a way to say women should not be in combat. At about 23 minutes into the broadcast, Barton said:

Do you want to go where stats lead you? And she [Cretella] mentioned, what did she say the suicide rates were like 20 times higher in the kids who were being pushed in the transgender direction. And that reminded me of something that a two star General told me not long ago. And he said, when you look at what’s happening right now with women in the military. Women are not allowed in combat, you know they made that decision to change that recently but they’re not in combat units yet. But over the last several years of women’s roles in Afghanistan where they are not allowed in combat, of the women who are back, 90% are suffering from PTSD, only 10% of guys coming back suffering from PTSD. So we got 90% PTSD in women coming back and they’re not in combat. I know! Let’s put them in combat.

After citing a misleading stat from Cretella, he gives his audience one of his own.

I think it is possible that a two-star General who opposes women in combat did tell Barton this. However, now Barton is spreading undocumented and most likely false information to his audience. Some research does find that women experience more frequently than men do, the difference isn’t as great as Barton’s General told him. Here are two VA sources on the matter:

How many women Veterans have PTSD?

Among women Veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, almost 20 of every 100 (or 20%) have been diagnosed with PTSD. We also know the rates of PTSD in women Vietnam Veterans. An important study found that about 27 of every 100 female Vietnam Veterans (or 27%) suffered from PTSD sometime during their postwar lives. To compare, in men who served in Vietnam, about 31 of every 100 (or 31%) developed PTSD in their lifetime. (link)

Twenty percent is a tragedy but it is a long way from 90%.

According to a recent VA source, the rates of PTSD are about the same for military men and women seeking care from the VA.

“In the general population, women are twice as likely as men to develop posttraumatic stress disorder,” noted Dr. Sonja Batten, VA’s Deputy Chief Consultant for Specialty Mental Health. “But among recent returnees seeking care at VA, PTSD rates among men and women are the same. Statistics such as these suggest the need to better understand the role of gender in PTSD, particularly as it may impact our Veterans seeking care.”

On PTSD, Barton hasn’t had a good track record.

It might not be today, but I intend to get back to the claim that the transgender teen suicide rate is 20 times higher than some other teens.

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