By Jim Fausone
Veterans Disability Lawyer
After hearing from thousands of veterans, I know that the stress of military life and war impact every veteran.
Over the next decade, I can only imagine the disability claims that will be submitted by drone operators. It is probably predictable that the VA will deny these claims because the service members were not in combat. However, the DOD’s own research acknowledges the stress placed on the men and women who operate drones. About one in three airmen who operate cameras on high-altitude, remotely controlled spy planes and 30% of those who fly attack drones used to kill terrorists have emotional exhaustion. An Air Force psychologist conducted a six-month study of drone operators from 2010 to 2011. Researchers found clinical distress and mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression. Sixty-five percent to 70% of those with mental illness signs are not seeking treatment for it, researchers found. Nearly 900 Air Force personnel were surveyed. Seventeen percent are women and 60% married. When they were first asked broadly about burnout, nearly half admitted it.
Let’s hope VA does not forget the impact the war has on these men and women.