In a prescient and poignant piece of commentary published on June 16th, 2017, in the San Diego Union-Tribune, retired U.S. Navy SEAL officer Ed Hiner described the toll that 16 years of continuous wartime deployments have taken on the Navy’s SEAL community. It is a devastating and cautionary picture he paints.
Hiner describes the situation as an “epidemic” and a “train wreck” that is facing the country’s “tip-of-the-spear veterans.” He is not wrong and should be commended for bringing this issue to the public’s attention. It is one that we here at SOFREP have raised as well.
In the piece, Hiner provides readers with two recent examples of SEALs — both from SEAL team FIVE — who took their own lives within six months of each other after leaving military service. He also mentions a third SEAL who is in long-term inpatient care as a result of post-traumatic stress.
Hiner states that the two SEALs who took their own lives in-fact served in the same platoon at ST-5 and were both “over-exposed” to combat in the years before they transitioned to civilian life. It is this abrupt transition, in Hiner’s view, that is at least partly to blame for the mental stresses facing these special operations personnel. In an illustrative and apt metaphor, Hiner likens the time spent in combat to saturation diving.