The New York Times reports that a study from the Defense Department states that drone pilots thousands of miles from the war suffer from the same stresses as though who are actually engaged face-to-face with the enemy;
But Air Force officials and independent experts have suggested several potential causes, among them witnessing combat violence on live video feeds, working in isolation or under inflexible shift hours, juggling the simultaneous demands of home life with combat operations and dealing with intense stress because of crew shortages.
“Remotely piloted aircraft pilots may stare at the same piece of ground for days,” said Jean Lin Otto, an epidemiologist who was a co-author of the study. “They witness the carnage. Manned aircraft pilots don’t do that. They get out of there as soon as possible.”
Dr. Otto said she had begun the study expecting that drone pilots would actually have a higher rate of mental health problems because of the unique pressures of their job.
Obviously, this is an attempt by the Defense Department to elevate the status of their drone operators, but it’s making them look ridiculous and it encourages the inter-services rivalry. As TSO reported the other day, the DoD isn’t backing down from their Distinguished Warfare Medal and the fact that it rates above a Bronze Star Medal, so I guess they’re trying to justify that bit of idiocy.
I’m not picking on drone operators, some of whom are here on TAH, many are lurking quietly. They serve like the rest of us serve – doing the jobs that most Americans won’t. But, the article states things like balancing home life with their careers as a factor – I guess its more difficult to leave your family for an eight-hour shift knowing you’re coming home alive than it is leaving your family behind for more than a year and wondering in how many pieces you’ll return.
Honestly, I don’t want to demean the jobs that these folks do – their contribution to the war is indeed significant, but this overblown BS coming out of the Defense Department make it difficult to do otherwise. I just watched an entire hour of Inside Combat Rescue, I wonder if I have issues. Or maybe these DoD doctors should check on the mental health of folks who watch a Band of Brothers marathon for ten hours straight. FFS.