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.