donald trump ptsd virginia herndon town hall sot_00001816.jpg
donald trump ptsd virginia herndon town hall sot_00001816.jpg
Now playing
00:46
Trump: Vets who commit suicide 'can't handle it'
Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein waits to be introduced prior to a press conference at the National Press Club August 23, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein waits to be introduced prior to a press conference at the National Press Club August 23, 2016 in Washington, DC.
PHOTO: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Now playing
01:44
Jill Stein raises millions for recount
Former Democratic US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to staff and supporters at the New Yorker hotel after her defeat in the presidential election November 9, 2016 in New York. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Democratic US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to staff and supporters at the New Yorker hotel after her defeat in the presidential election November 9, 2016 in New York. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
02:14
Scientists urge Clinton to call for recount
LYNDEN, WA - MAY 07: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech during a rally at the The Northwest Washington Fair and Event Center on May 7, 2016 in Lynden, Washington. Trump became the Republican presumptive nominee following his landslide win in Indiana on Tuesday. (Photo by Matt Mills McKnight/Getty Images)
LYNDEN, WA - MAY 07: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech during a rally at the The Northwest Washington Fair and Event Center on May 7, 2016 in Lynden, Washington. Trump became the Republican presumptive nominee following his landslide win in Indiana on Tuesday. (Photo by Matt Mills McKnight/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Matt Mills McKnight/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Now playing
03:25
Donald Trump's wild ride
Now playing
01:46
Trump's challenges in the Middle East
donald trump undocumented immigrants crime fact check origwx ty_00013807.jpg
donald trump undocumented immigrants crime fact check origwx ty_00013807.jpg
Now playing
02:47
Fact checking Trump on crimes by immigrants
PHOTO: Mark Makela/Getty Images/Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Now playing
01:26
Trump vs. the tape on Obama and the protester
Now playing
01:28
Trump compares Clinton email probe to Watergate
Members of the Secret Service rush Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump off the stage at a campaign rally in Reno, Nev., on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Members of the Secret Service rush Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump off the stage at a campaign rally in Reno, Nev., on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)
PHOTO: John Locher/AP
Now playing
01:20
Donald Trump rushed off stage by Secret Service
PHOTO: AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
02:16
Trump reads letter from Patriot's coach at rally
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during rally at the Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, New Hampshire on November 4, 2016.
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during rally at the Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, New Hampshire on November 4, 2016.
PHOTO: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
01:56
Trump on US officials: 'What a group of losers'
donald trump nice and cool pensacola fl bts_00001523.jpg
donald trump nice and cool pensacola fl bts_00001523.jpg
Now playing
00:49
Trump's mantra in campaign's final week: Stay on point
donald trump nice to hillary clinton and democrats orig cm_00000000.jpg
donald trump nice to hillary clinton and democrats orig cm_00000000.jpg
Now playing
01:52
Audio of Trump praising the Clintons and Democrats
cuomo lewandowski hillary clinton email exchange newday_00002327.jpg
cuomo lewandowski hillary clinton email exchange newday_00002327.jpg
Now playing
01:28
Cuomo grills Lewandowski on Clinton email 'hypocrisy'
Now playing
00:10
This video is no longer available
Now playing
01:49
Meet the other Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

Story highlights

Trump made the comments at the Retired American Warriors PAC, in Herndon, Virginia.

The number of suicides and other grave effects from PTSD in the military has skyrocketed

(CNN) —  

Donald Trump suggested Monday that American soldiers and veterans who commit suicide do so because they can’t handle the post-traumatic stress of war.

“When you talk about the mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat and they see things that maybe a lot of folks in this room have seen many times over and you’re strong and you can handle it but a lot of people can’t handle it. They see horror stories, they see events you couldn’t see in a movie, nobody would believe it,” Trump said Monday, during a panel interview at the Retired American Warriors PAC, in Herndon, Virginia.

Trump’s surrogates said the Republican nominee’s comments were taken out of context, and blamed the media for construing his words.

Trump adviser and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn accused the media reporting on Trump’s comments of, acting as ” the propaganda arm of Hillary Clinton.”

QUIZ: Are you more like Clinton or Trump?

“Mr. Trump was highlighting the challenges veterans face when returning home after serving their country. He has always respected the service and sacrifice of our military men and women—proposing reforms to Veteran Affairs to adequately address the various issues veterans face when they return home,” FLynn said in a statement.

Trump senior adviser Sarah Huckabee Sanders also said his comments were taken out of context, adding that he was the only candidate in the race placing a strong emphasis on veterans.

“There’s a reason that hundreds of military leaders around the country have endorsed and signed on and said in that room today to express their support for Donald Trump,” she told CNN’s John Berman.

The number of suicides and other grave effects from PTSD in the military has skyrocketed, causing alarm both inside the military and in the public at large.

RELATED: Trump’s weekend meltdown

Jon Soltz, an Iraq War veteran and Chairman of the progressive VoteVets.org, called Trump’s comments “horrible” but “not shocking.”

“We’re talking about a person, in Trump, who believes that POWs aren’t real heroes, and that he’s made sacrifices akin to Gold Star Families who lost their loved ones in war,” Soltz said in a statement. “The constant disrespect Donald Trump shows towards our veterans and service members is sickening, and completely and totally disqualifying.”

During a CNN town hall on military issues last week, President Barack Obama faced tough questions about how the Department of Veteran Affairs was addressing the issue.

“I have instructed the Joint Chiefs, and up and down the chain of command, that they have a responsibility to de-stigmatize mental health issues and issues of PTSD, and help to explain to everybody in all of the units under their command that there’s nothing weak about asking for help,” Obama told a military widow at the event.

Some veterans took to social media after hearing of Trump’s comment.

CNN’s Ryan Brown and Adrienne Shih contributed to this report.