On June 28, 2005, a helicopter full of Navy SEALS was shot down by militants in Kunar (Meek, 2015). The mission, also known as Operation Red Wings, resulted because another SEAL called for help during a firefight (Meek, 2015). Unfortunately, militants were waiting to ambush the helicopter as the SEAL members began to rope down to the ground for the rescue mission (Meek, 2015). The crash resulted in the deaths of all 16 men aboard the helicopter (Meek, 2015). Ultimately, only one SEAL made it out alive from the entire mission and rescue mission (Meek, 2015).
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can result one a person is exposed to actual or threatened death, injury, or sexual violence through directly experiencing the event, witnessing the event, learning that the traumatic event occurred to a close family member or friend, or repeated exposure to traumatic details of an event (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
In the case of this disaster, there are a plethora of victims or survivors who are at risk of developing PTSD. First, the survivor (i.e. the NAVY Seal) of the incident is most likely at the greatest risk of developing PTSD because he was directly involved in the traumatic event. With that said, there are also unidentified people who may develop PTSD. For example, PTSD can occur when a person learns about the serious injury or violent death of a close friend or family member. In this case, there were at least sixteen individuals who lost their lives in a violent manner. It is a possibility that the close family members, such as parents, spouses, and children, of these individuals will develop PTSD. Close friends, such as other Navy SEALS, of these individuals are also at risk of developing PTSD.
There are a variety of risk factors related to PTSD. First, those exposed to repeated traumatic events, such as those who have experienced combat, are more likely to develop PTSD as compared to someone who has only experienced one traumatic event. (James & Gilliland, 2017). Furthermore, people who were previously diagnosed with a mental illness, such as depression, also increases the chance of a person developing PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event (James & Gilliland, 2017). Additionally, genetics, personality, spirituality, level of education, support systems, economic status, gender, age, previous childhood trauma, marital status, and coping strategies all play a role in the development of PTSD (James & Gilliland, 2017). If the survivor was young, unmarried, had no college education, lacked a support system, and experienced childhood trauma, then he would be at greater risk of developing PTSD. Despite the variety of risk factors, there is no one identified risk factor that guarantees that a person will develop PTSD. Instead, James and Gilliland (2017) state that PTSD occurs when the trauma overwhelms the personâ€™s ability to cope. The trauma and the subsequent responses cannot be managed by the personâ€™s skills and abilities.
As the crisis worker is responding to the lone survivor, he/she needs to conduct an assessment of the survivorâ€™s risk factors and current symptomology. As the number of risk factors increase, the risk of PTSD also increases. Therefore, the crisis worker will likely have to provide more interventions as the number of risk factors increase. For example, if the survivor lacks coping skills and a support system, as well as drinks copious amounts of alcohol, the crisis worker will have to provide a variety of interventions and problem-solving strategies to ensure the psychological, emotional, and physical safety of the survivor. With that said, identification of risk factors can also lead to the identification of protective factors. For example, if the crisis response worker identifies that the person has a large support system, that support system can be engaged to provide support. Some of the protective factors can be utilized to counteract some of the risk factors.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5 (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
James, R. K., & Gilliland, B. E. (2017). Crisis intervention strategies (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Meek, J. (2015, July 1). An Overlooked Hero of Navy SEALs’ Operation Red Wings. Retrieved from https://abcnews.go.com/International/overlooked-hero-navy-seals-operation-red-wings/story?id=32136944