Drone Pilots and the Development of PTSD

Drone aircrafts have made headways into the military aviation circuit for years. These drones are used for combat purposes and, recently, there are signs that their operators are feeling the immense strain, warranting the need to apply for ample disability compensation. In a report posted in Reader Supported News, Prattap Chatterjee said post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, has severely affected the U.S. Air Force’s drone pilot corps so much so that many have resigned the service.

Military Drone

The sudden exodus of such qualified personnel due to PTSD may translate into further problems once they reenter civilian life. PTSD United data states that 70% of all Americans will have experienced traumatic events at some point in life, and these events are likely to come back later to haunt them. If you are hit with PTSD but have made little progress in seeking disability benefits, a Social Security Disability lawyer, such as Jan Dils, attorney-at-law, will work out the potential options with you.

The Air Force’s drone operators are primarily stationed at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, after taking a yearlong training program at Holloman AFB in Alamogordo, New Mexico and Randolph AFB in San Antonio, Texas. At present, the pilots are trained to fly the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper combat drones, which are currently deployed over the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Source of the Problem

The problem though, lies in the workload, especially when turning in more flight hours. Air Force chief of staff Gen. Mark Welsh said in a National Public Radio interview that the high number of potential targets force the pilots to turn in shifts of up to 12 hours a day for almost one full week, thereby logging up to 1,800 hours a year. Regular USAF pilots collect no more than 300 hours a year.

Former and active drone operators claimed that some colleagues even malign them for being “videogame warriors.” The PTSD angle surfaces as the drone attacks ground targets but it raises the danger of trauma among operators due to collateral damage caught on camera. It can even be worse coming home; a veteran operator said to LiveScience that “friction” can break out due to security restrictions preventing the pilot from talking to their spouse.

Recourse for Drone Pilots with PTSD

A lawyer can help in shoring up your claim for PTSD benefits. The key is to bring together all supporting documentation for analysis by the Social Security Administration, such as consultation data from a physician experienced in PTSD treatment, and imaging and lab test data from your hospital. The material will help evaluators determine if the illness has affected your work capabilities. As PTSD can be a precursor for other illnesses, you need every possible resource to prevent that danger. Consult a disability lawyer like Attorney Jan Dils today.


Drone Pilots Quitting Due to PTSD, Reader Supported News

The Drone War’s Bottleneck: Too Many Targets, Not Enough Pilots, National Public Radio

Drone Wars: Pilots Reveal Debilitating Stress Beyond Virtual Battlefield, LiveScience

PTSD Statistics, PTSD United

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Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law

Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law