Drone Pilots Get Same Stress as Combat Pilots

Pentagon study sees evidence PTSD, even from afar

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 23, 2013 10:58 AM CST | Updated Feb 23, 2013 11:24 AM CST
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(Newser) – This won't go over well with vets who think drone pilots don't deserve the same kind of medal as war-zone troops: A Pentagon study finds that those who operate drones from afar suffer combat-related stress at the same rate as pilots who fly into battle themselves, reports the New York Times. Doesn't seem to make sense? Consider that drone operators "witness the carnage" via video, says one of the researchers. "Manned aircraft pilots don’t do that. They get out of there as soon as possible."

Drone operators also often work in isolation, and they have to balance home life and military duties simultaneously, more so than troops in a war zone. Expect more such studies as drones advance: The story notes that the Air Force will have more drone pilots than bomber pilots (though not fighter pilots) by 2015. Click to read about how the drone photo illustrating this file came to be.

File photo of a US Predator drone over Kandahar Air Field.
File photo of a US Predator drone over Kandahar Air Field.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
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