Over a decade of sustained combat operations have taken its toll on the American Special Operations Operator. The toll of war strikes deep and shows up in many different forms: a broken marriage, child custody issues, domestic violence, substance abuse, PTSD, suicide and much worse.
SOFREP spoke with representatives from US SOCOM (Special Operations Command) recently, and we’re confident the organization under Admiral McRaven’s leadership has aggressively put measures in place to deal with these issues in a meaningful way. But what about the men who are no longer on active duty? What happens to them?
The recent incident with Trident’s former SEAL maritime security contractors provides the uninitiated observer a peek down the rabbit hole when it comes to the Special Operations community and its history with illicit substance abuse. And before you judge a person, first walk a mile in their shoes. Back-to-back-to-back combat deployments and a broken marriage have claimed many a good man in over a decade of sustained warfare. Some guys dig out, and some fall deeper into the darkness, never to return as their former selves again, casualties of war.
The situation gets more complicated when unit members cover up the substance abuse of their teammates under the guise of “He’s a good operator, and the unit can’t afford to lose him.” An example of this was pointed out in a book called Fearless. Fearless tells the amazing story of Adam Brown, his ongoing battle with substance abuse, and his ability to overcome it all to pursue his dream of becoming a US Navy SEAL. Adam’s story is a must read, however, what’s hiding in plain site is the story of Adam’s relapse on crack while on active duty. This was prior to his assignment at Naval Special Warfare Command’s Development Group (DEVGRU or AKA SEAL Team 6).
“There is no room for that in this job. We train at high levels, shooting real bullets”, said his former teammate who had it out with him, quoted from the book Fearless written by Eric Blehm.
When I spoke to Blehm, and asked him about Adam’s story he had this to say, “I believe Adam is one of the exceptions, truly. He deserved a second chance based on a lifetime of character. That is why the recruiter signed the waivers, he knew about Adam’s past, and felt he could rise above.”