Depression and Mental Illness in the Military

Sailors living dangerous lives is a fact of military life. Most civilians are at least moderately aware of the dangers that a sailor faces while deployed out at sea. It’s easy to think that the threats faced by these servicemen only come from adversarial countries or even the possible risks of living aboard a military vessel. But, that’s not always the case… at times, the biggest danger a sailor faces actually comes from within the mind. Mental illnesses such as Depression can affect anyone, and sailors aren’t exempt from experiencing bouts of inner turmoil when the stresses of life both personal and professional enter the battlefield.

Military members are expected to be the best and brightest serving the country. But, they can’t always perform to the top of their abilities. Sailors go through a myriad of trials on a regular day, but additional problems can stem from the challenges found in balancing a healthy professional, familiar, and personal (as in the individual) life. At times the different aspects of a sailor’s life will find themselves at odds with each other. Whether it is a deployment preventing enough time with the family or even some time to be alone with their private thoughts, sailors never seem to have adequate intervals for all of them. Eventually, the lack of time can and probably will have a variety of negative impacts on the life of the sailors. Stress will accumulate, mistakes happen, relationships can be broken, and unavoidable despair will rear its ugly face. But, what steps does the military use to prevent these situations from happening?

The Navy frequently has presentations highlighting the symptoms and common traits present in Depression. Additionally, the military makes note of how everyone is responsible for protecting the lives of their shipmates by recognizing these manifestations of the disorder in their brethren. But, it’s not always possible to notice, some people hide it better than others, and men are especially at risk of hiding their true feelings. That it’s not “manly” to cry is an adage all too familiar for men in the United States, and while the opinion is shifting away from that aspect of toxic masculinity, there is still a generation out there who grew up with it.

By avoiding talking about their true feelings and instead of bottling them up, they become ticking time bombs waiting to explode. It’s sad when sailors lose a shipmate to Depression-induced suicide, but it’s devastating to know that it could have been a loss avoided if attention was paid to the victim. About 14% of the military suffers from one form of Depression or another. While it might seem like a small number, it has a significant impact on the mission readiness of the military. No member of the military should have to suffer by themselves. Regardless of whether they’re veterans, active duty, dependents, reservists are all family, and it’s their duty to take action and prevent the loss of those who stand by their side…

Depression is a common, but serious mental disorder. It’s crazy to think, but Depression can strike even when a person most expects it. Understanding this particular mood disorder does little to help prevent it, but it does assist in recognizing the symptoms. By recognizing the symptoms of Depression, a person can seek the help necessary to overcome it, and therefore maximize their chances of pulling through unscathed. However, the scars left from Depression run deep and it can have deadly results if left unchecked. It’s up to all of us to look out for one another and make sure everyone is aware that there are avenues out there to help. Even one life lost to Depression is one too many.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Emmanuel "Dash the Bomber" Barbosa

Emmanuel Barbosa, AKA Dash The Bomber, is currently serving in the 7th fleet, and has over 8 years of experience in the military. A writer with a penchant for the humorous and informative, he loves to share his stories with those who would be willing to listen. Having served in deployments that have taken him around the world, Dash has seen and heard about many things that would be hard to believe. A loving father and a faithful husband, he is dedicated to protecting his family and country. For fun he enjoys cosplaying, videogames, and writing for online magazines.

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