By Debbie Gregory.
They’re trained to disarm improvised explosive devices. Neutralize chemical threats. Even render safe nuclear weapons. Explosive Ordnance (EOD) Technicians perform some of the most harrowing, dangerous work in order to keep others from harm’s way, and they do so in every environment.
But the highly skilled EOD technicians have another threat looming; an alarmingly increase in the number of EOD suicides.
The non-profit EOD Warrior Foundation, which supports current and former military EOD techs and their families, offers a peer-to-peer 24 hour hotline to assist the EOD community.
Suicide is a major concern throughout the military and it is a special concern for the EOD Warrior Foundation, according to Nicole Motsek, the foundation’s director.
“We are a small community; we have only 7,000 people on active duty. During some months, it has been every week that we have lost someone. There are so many people out there with the invisible wounds of war and they are a part of our EOD community. We cannot wait and hope they get help, we have to do something now to help them,” said Motsek, who is married to an Army EOD technician who has had multiple combat deployments.
The foundation plans a round-table summit in November to discuss suicide among EOD techs. The foundation is also holding a retreat this fall for “White Star widows,” the widows of EOD techs who have killed themselves.
Since 9/11, 131 EOD technicians have died in combat and another 250 have sustained major physical injuries including lost eyesight, lost limbs, paralysis and major burns.
The EOD Warrior Foundation does not have an exact number of EOD techs who have taken their own lives, partly because in their line of work, it is often difficult to tell if someone died accidentally or intentionally.