Although they have many strengths, including high intelligence and extraordinary physical and mental toughness, many members of the military special operation forces (SOFs) face a number of medical, emotional, and social problems that are not adequately captured by psychiatric diagnoses of depression or PTSD.  Our naturalistic, observational report identifies a set of healthcare difficulties within the SOF community that represent a common pattern of interrelated medical, psychological, and social impairments in this unique group. They include traumatic brain injury (TBI); endocrine dysfunction; sleep disturbance; obstructive sleep apnea; chronic joint/back pain, orthopedic problems, and headaches; substance abuse; depression and suicide; PTSD; anger; worry, rumination, and stress reactivity; marital, family, and community dysfunction; problems with sexual health and intimacy; being “on guard” or hypervigilant; memory, concentration, and cognitive impairments; vestibular and vision impairments; challenges of the transition from military to civilian life; and existential issues. This unique constellation of medical and behavioral healthcare needs may be understood as the natural consequence of an extraordinarily high allostatic load: the accumulation of physiological, neural, and neuroendocrine responses resulting from the prolonged chronic stress and physical demands of a career with the military special forces. 


A unique constellation of medical and behavioral health-care needs of military special operations forces

Special Operations Association of America. “What is Operator Syndrome? Dr. Frueh Explains.” Jan 13th, 2022. Youtube. 


clickable Behind The Warrior Podcast logo for Ep. 73 "Operator Syndrome" Part I & 2- Dr. Chris Frueh