According to Thom Shanker and Richard A. Oppel Jr., the military’s top forces, have a drastically higher suicide rate than the rest of active-duty military. In the past two and half years alone, 49 Special Operations members have killed themselves, more than the preceding 5 years. The numbers are alarming, but unfortunately not surprising. These men are carrying out some of the most top secret and dangerous missions, most of he time leaving and coming back again without anyone even hearing about the mission. These men are at a higher risk of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) because of the high levels of stress in the jobs.
Unfortunately, the stigma of seeking mental health is something that these men feel like they can’t do. They are suppose to be the biggest and the baddest there is and seeking mental health help is just not acceptable. They are taught to fight through injury and remain stoic about pain, physical or psychological. The Commanders of these special operations units are now openly pushing their troops to seek help but they know that the battle for mental health is only just beginning.
Congress has recently gotten involved with the matter and The House Armed Services Committee, recently voted to shift $23 million to therapies for brain injury, PTSD, and suicide prevention for Special Operations forces. As these commandos are retiring their struggles are expected to become more apparent. Captain Tom Chaby, a former SEAL Team Five commanders said, “We physically crush special operators during their careers, and when they retire they are broken. We broke these guys. We need to do our best to send them back into the civilian sector as whole as possible.
Many of these men don’t even realize how much war has scarred them until several years later. These men also face troubling rates of broken marriages, alcoholism and other concerns. TBI’s aren’t just caused from huge explosions or traumatic events. Some are caused from the training itself. These men train in live fire exercises and even though it’s a controlled environment, the explosions are still real.
I most definitely think this is a credible source and it saddens me to think about all the suffering that can be prevented with the right programs. I will say that the stigma of being tough doesn’t just apply to commandos, it trickles all the way down the ranks, right down to the Private in boot camp.