Apologies for an odd linking situation.
Wired IO9 did a piece drawn from the GQ article. I do suggest reading both links. The professional psycologists have one idea. I have another. How about these guys get to do a bunch of humanitarian drone missions as a break. Rotate them more often. Maybe just maybe back up on the target list a little. Less murky.
It’s a captivating read - one definitely worth reading in its entirety - but we were particularly struck by the section exploring Bryant’s PTSD diagnosis, which he received just a few months after his heavy concscience led him to leave the Air Force:
It was an unexpected diagnosis. For decades the model for understanding PTSD has been “fear conditioning”: quite literally the lasting psychological ramifications of mortal terror. But a term now gaining wider acceptance is “moral injury.” It represents a tectonic realignment, a shift from a focusing on the violence that has been done to a person in wartime toward his feelings about what he has done to others — or what he’s failed to do for them. The concept is attributed to the clinical psychiatrist Jonathan Shay, who in his book Achilles in Vietnam traces the idea back as far as the Trojan War. The mechanisms of death may change — as intimate as a bayonet or as removed as a Hellfire [an air-to-ground missile common aboard Predator drones]—but the bloody facts, and their weight on the human conscience, remain the same. Bryant’s diagnosis of PTSD fits neatly into this new understanding. It certainly made sense to Bryant. “I really have no fear,” he says now. “It’s more like I’ve had a soul-crushing experience. An experience that I thought I’d never have. I was never prepared to take a life.”