- The Washington Times - Friday, April 18, 2014

The suicide rates for U.S. military members who serve in special forces, like the Navy SEALs and the Army Rangers, have hit all-time highs, said Adm. William McRaven, the head of Special Operations Command.

The rate’s been high for two years, he said, Newsmax reported.

“And this year, I am afraid, we are on path to break that,” he went on at a conference in Tampa. “My soldiers have been fighting now for 12, 13 years in hard combat — hard combat — and anybody that has spent any time in this war has been changed by it. It’s that simple.”

He didn’t provide hard data for the suicide rate, but prior military statistics show that in 2012, more active duty service members died by their own hands — about 350 — than in combat, Newsmax reported. That trend seems to be showing the same for 2013, when 284 service members killed themselves between January and Dec. 15, 2013.

The admiral also said it could take a year or even longer to gauge the true and full effect of sustained combat operations on special forces.

Adm. McRaven’s command includes elite forces operating in 84 different countries, and between the four main branches — Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines — there are a total of 59,000 special ops members, Pentagon statistics show, Newsmax reported.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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