A new report shows that 17 percent of active duty drone pilots surveyed are thought to be “clinically distressed.” That means they’re so stressed that it affects their work and family lives.
Reasons for Pilot Stress
A report from National Public Radio states that the different realities of surveying a combat zone and then going home to family causes unique psychological stress. Secondly, the drones operate 24 hours a day which has meant extended time for drone pilots at the controls.
Although the United States formally ended the war in Iraq last week and is gradually drawing down in Afghanistan, that doesn’t mean demand for drones will decline. Indeed, the opposite appears likely.
“As you lose eyes on the ground, you may want more eyes in the air,” Lieutenant General Larry James, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, said.
Although combat was not reported to be one of the main “stressers” for any of those surveyed, it had affected some drone crews – who witnessed, and maybe even participated in, some of the most grizzly aspects of war from afar.
The bulk of what drone crews do is surveillance, monitoring suspects or compounds. But they also sometimes take out targets. – Reuters