Many U.S. elite troops divorced and struggling

July 11, 2013 at 1:18 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 11 (UPI) -- Many U.S. elite troops -- Navy SEALs, Green Berets, Rangers -- who saw a good deal of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan are struggling at home, experts say.

A survey of special operations forces, with troops drawn from all four branches of the U.S. military, showed some are struggling with alcohol abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, anger and emotional numbness, USA Today reported. One-in-4 admits sleeping 5 or fewer hours each night.

One-in-five commandos said if given the chance again, they would have married someone else or not at all, the survey said.

An executive summary of the survey -- conducted online late last year and involving 12,000 troops and spouses -- was provided to USA Today.

Between combat deployments and training trips overseas, special forces may spend eight or nine months each year away from their families and this hurts many marriages.

U.S. Navy Adm. William McRaven, who leads the nation's 66,000-member Special Operations Command, said his force has become "frayed" after more than a decade of war and it has taken a toll.

McRaven appointed Navy SEAL Capt. Thomas Chaby, to lead an effort to restore the force.

"'Frayed,' I don't think captures how dire some of the findings are," Chaby told USA Today.

Only 4 percent of these troops seek therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol abuse and other emotional issues -- potentially leaving thousands untreated, Chaby said. The survey found 10 percent said they showed signs of alcohol abuse or dependency, 8 percent showed signs of PTSD and 11 percent said they suffered from emotional numbness.

"If we don't address [the strains] now, we're going to have major problems," Chaby told USA Today. "That's all we ask of the nation is give us a chance to implement this program."

No survey details were provided.

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