BETHESDA, MD – Retired military drones have been converted into a variety of civilian purposes – border patrol, commerce, aerial photography – but for many drones, the transition back to civilian life is not so easy.
A recent study in the Journal of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Psychiatry reveals that more than 60% of veteran drones suffer from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. Symptoms, which were under-recognized until recently, include ongoing re-living of past events, hypervigilance, and bombing outbursts or irritability, among others.
“I’ve been part of terrible things… terrible things,” said one retired Predator drone, as he sat in the waiting room of his robotic psychiatrist, Dr. Priz. “There’s stuff I’ve seen that I’ll take with me to the scrap heap when I die.”
It can be challenging for many retired drones to go about daily life after leaving the service.
“I’m plucking along surveying some oil pipeline then all the sudden a loud noise and “blam!” – I’m back in the skies over a foreign country, dropping bombs on people I don’t even know. I’m forced to land with beads of sweat on my cold metal, and I don’t know how I can go back to work that day,” said the drone.
Recently, an expanded initiative for drone support and counseling was launched, called “Unmanned But Not Alone.”
While the military is just beginning to acknowledge the growing need for drone health services and awareness, the Daily Medical Examiner remains your source for the finest medical news anywhere.