By Debbie Gregory.
One of the most honored and respected segments of the United States military, the Navy SEALs, is battling an enemy from within. For the first time, Navy SEALs are talking publicly about drug abuse in their ranks.
A two-part CBS News investigation has aired, exposing drug use among the Navy SEALs, a problem the leadership has ignored for years.
For the first time, Navy SEALs, one of the most elite Special Forces, speak publicly about a drug problem they view as corroding their community in an interview with CBS News Pentagon and national security correspondent David Martin.
Three Navy SEALs, including one who is active duty and two who are retired, told Martin that multiple members of SEAL teams have tested positive for illegal drugs such as cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy. Their identities were kept confidential.
“I’m sitting in this chair because I’m not proud anymore to be in the community because of the direction that it’s going,” said one of the Navy SEALs who came forward.
After five SEALs were kicked off the teams for drugs this past fall, the East Coast SEAL Commander Capt. Jamie Sands told his force, “I feel like I’m watching our foundation, our culture, erode in front of our eyes.” Sands also vowed to close a longstanding loophole by testing for drugs while SEALs are on the road, telling the SEALs, “If you do drugs, if you decide to be that selfish individual, which I don’t think anyone’s going to do after today, I believe that then you will be caught.”
Sands then halted all training and ordered a “safety stand down” to address the problem. Every SEAL under his command, worldwide, was required to watch a meeting that addressed the drug problem. CBS News was provided with an edited recording of the meeting.
So why do SEALs take drugs? You might think it was due to the stress of high-risk operations, but that’s not what Sands said.
“They think it was OK because they’ve seen other people do it,” Sands said in the video. “They think their teammates won’t turn them in. They think it’s kind of the cool thing to do, but they think it’s OK.”
A SEAL who blows the whistle on drug use does so at his own peril.
“You stand up for what’s right, and you get blackballed, or driven out,” one of the SEALs said.
Another agreed, saying “it’s a career killer.”