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Drone Operators & PTSD

Throughout history, American soldiers have suffered, both physically and mentally, on the front lines of war. Technology has provided options that can save lives and prevent injuries by keeping our service members far from the battlefield, but this does not necessarily prevent mental anxiety and anguish.

Unmanned combat aerial vehicles, or drones, are sometimes used for surveillance missions but are often used to target and kill our enemies. Drone operators are able to commute to work everyday, where they operate weaponized aircraft using joysticks and monitor missions via satellite feeds. Although this may sound like a relatively comfortable position, many drone operators feel personally responsible for the deaths caused by these drone attacks. Nearly 50 percent of drone pilots report “high operational stress” and 4 percent suffer from PTSD.

Many traditional combat veterans scoff at the idea of someone who works out of an office in Arizona or Nevada experiencing PTSD. What they may not realize is that drone operators can be indirectly responsible for the deaths of more than 1,500 people – far more than most traditional combat service members. Often, drone operators make “after-action reports,” requiring them to watch the grisly aftermaths of drone bombings. While they may be watching images on a screen instead of being in the midst of the real thing, this distance does little to dampen the emotional blow of seeing people ripped apart and killed by drone strikes.

If you are a service member who operated a drone and are suffering mental and emotional injuries, it is important that you seek experienced legal counsel. Our attorneys are highly experienced with all types of veterans disability claims, including those involving psychological injuries such as PTSD.

For more information about drones and PTSD, contact us online or call for a free consultation.