Navy to investigate SEAL screening course after Sailor’s death found widespread drug use, physical abuse and medical neglect among recruits: report


US Navy sailors man the rails aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman in Kiel, Germany, March 21, 2022.Éric Moser, US Navy seaman/MCS

  • Seaman Kyle Mullen died this year after completing the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL course.

  • Mullen’s death exposed drug use, physical abuse and medical neglect among recruits, the NYT reported.

The Navy has ordered an independent investigation into its SEAL training course after a sailor’s death revealed widespread drug use, physical abuse and medical neglect among recruits, The New York Times reported.

Seaman Kyle Mullen, 24, died this year after collapsing after taking the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs, or BUD/S, course, which is known for its extreme training methods, including underwater drills. water with your hands tied, hauling heavy logs and inflatable boats on the sand, sit-ups and strenuous dives in freezing waves.

Mullen had been coughing up blood for several days, The New York Times reported, following the grueling training regiment’s “week from hell” that included more than 200 miles of freezing swimming and running in hot sand, with only about five hours of sleep in five days.

The sailor’s official cause of death was ruled to be bacterial pneumonia, The New York Times reported, but his family believe medical negligence also played a part in his death, as doctors saw the condition he was in. Mullen was found during daily medical checks but nothing was done to treat him.

“They killed him,” his mother, Regina Mullen, who is a registered nurse, told The New York Times. “They say it’s training, but it’s torture. And then they haven’t even given them proper medical care. They treat these guys worse than they’re allowed to treat prisoners of war.”

That same afternoon Mullen died, another man who survived Hell Week had to be intubated, The New York Times reported. Two others were hospitalized the same evening.

So few recruits take the BUD/S course that sailors often rely on illicit drug use to succeed. Syringes and performance-enhancing drugs were found in Mullen’s car, The New York Times reported, prompting the Navy to open a preliminary investigation that found about 40 applicants had tested positive or admitted having used steroids or other drugs while they work their way through the course.

A day after The New York Times published its initial report on Mullen’s death and the abuse it exposed, outgoing Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. William K. Lescher, issued an order to a rear admiral from outside the SEALs commencing a secondary, independent investigation.

Lescher’s letter ordered a review of the course’s safety measures, instructor and physician qualifications and its student drug policies, The New York Times reported, and gave investigators 30 days to render account of their findings.

The US Navy did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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