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An estimated 18 veterans commit suicide every day. One of them was a former Navy SEAL, who killed himself on the day after Veterans Day, 2012.
Rob Guzzo served in Iraq and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when he came home. He kept that a secret because he feared for his career.
“Rob was speaking to his teammates and senior teammates about some of the things that he was experiencing,” Guzzo’s mother Robin Anderson told Here & Now’s Robin Young. “They were cautioning him that if you go see a mental health provider, if you say you’re having these types of symptoms, it is going to affect your security clearance. For a SEAL, if you don’t have a security clearance, you don’t go on secret classified missions, therefore you’re not a Navy SEAL.”
Eventually, Guzzo’s symptoms got so bad that his parents, both Navy vets themselves, got him discharged and got him private treatment outside the military.
But in the end, it didn’t help.
Brook Silva-Braga, a classmate of Guzzo’s from Portsmouth High School in Rhode Island and host of The Washington Post’s online news program “The Fold,” told Guzzo’s story in a recent video report.
“In the Navy, in the Army, in Special Forces, they are trying to change this [PTSD] stigma, they’re trying to reduce it,” Silva-Braga told Here & Now. “But there’s at least a couple things that they run up against. One is this long-entrenched culture. But in cases like the SEALS there is this legitimate sticky wicket of, because of the security clearance, there may be some people that come back that shouldn’t keep their clearance because of what they’re going through. But because they know that, how do they get treatment for what they’re going through? And it’s a bit of a catch-22 that I’m not sure there’s a good answer for.”