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Navy Seal USMC Brain Injuries Suicide: Suing

Navy SEAL & USMC Brain Injuries, Suicide: Is Suing Possible?


Navy SEAL & USMC Brain Injuries, Suicide: Is Suing Possible?

For many Navy SEALs and USMC veterans, the battle doesn’t end when they return home. Invisible brain injuries continue to impact their lives. This is where Ehline Law, a premier personal injury law firm, provides crucial legal representation. Specializing in traumatic brain injury cases, Ehline Law remains dedicated to servicemembers. 

Ehline Law’s commitment goes beyond the courtroom. They fight for medical care, benefits, and compensation vets deserve. Their team of experienced attorneys understands and offers compassionate and personalized legal advocacy. 

“When a Navy SEAL or USMC member suffers a brain injury, it’s not just a medical issue; it’s a fight for their future. Ehline Law provides the legal firepower to navigate this battle,” says founder Michael Ehline.

I am Michael Ehline, a former USMC lance corporal. I have been a fan of decorated Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher for years. I appreciate his fight to expose brain injuries in the SEAL community. I am not affiliated with him but support him and Light Colonel Stuart Scheller. Eddie raises awareness on social media about brain injuries, suicide, and support for veterans. His advocacy deserves our support and attention.

As will be discussed, while most Marine brain injuries are from combat-related operations, the overwhelming number of SEAL brain injuries come from their high-intensity and dangerous close training. This is no surprise considering the type of repetitive training SEALS do that involves jarring, jolting, and impact. Also, SEALS do a lot of land and underwater training with explosives. But small arms fire seems to do most of the damage, and SEALS fire off a lot of ammo. All the blastwave issues do damage over time. It’s a work comp injury on steroids.

And so here is what I cover in my article.

  • We raise public awareness about brain injuries among Navy SEALs and Marines.
  • Highlight the legal and medical struggles veterans face post-service.
  • Promote Ehline Law’s dedication to brain injury victims.
  • Can Wives and Families Sue for a Brain Injury Suicide?
  • Encourage community support and participation in the Paul Ehline Ride.

Year Reported Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) in the Military Percentage of Mild Concussions 2000 27,948 80% 2005 45,315 82% 2010 61,005 84% 2015 57,630 83% 2020 62,687 85% 2023 46,498 81%

These stark statistics underline the widespread and often persistent issue of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) among military personnel.

Yet, beyond these numbers lie the deeply personal stories of struggle, recovery, and the fight for comprehensive care and recognition. 

SEAL v USMC Brain injury chart

Examples of SEALS, Brain Injury and Suicide 

I have several friends who came back from Afghanistan with their brains looking like Swiss cheese from brain scans. Many Marine brothers of mine have been blown up multiple times. The Teams are at the tip of the spear as well, and like Marines, many suffer brain injuries. For example, David Metcalf’s final act was a call for awareness — a testament to the devastating impact that nearly two decades as a Navy SEAL had on his brain. 

In 2019, at the age of 42, Metcalf died by suicide in his North Carolina garage. He arranged books about brain injuries next to him and left a note: 

“Gaps in memory, failing recognition, mood swings, headaches, impulsiveness, fatigue, anxiety, and paranoia were not who I was, but have become who I am. Each is worsening.” 

He then shot himself in the heart, intending for his brain to be examined by a Defense Department laboratory in Maryland. His gravestone at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois, tells a part of the story. The lab’s analysis revealed typical, repeated blast wave exposure. 

Interestingly, most blast exposure stems from SEALs firing their weapons during training, not enemy action. This suggests that training designed to hone their skills leaves some SEALs barely functional. 

Breacher syndrome?

Recent studies suggest that breachers get more traumatic brain injury from Breacher’s syndrome, a rare neurological condition found in the military or police.

Although I don’t know precisely what happened here, SEALS do much more breaching than a typical Marine infantry unit. However, Metcalf’s message did not pierce the silence. The lab findings were never communicated to SEAL leadership, nor did they pursue any follow-up. 

Families Convinced Blasts Damaged Brains

Tragically, Metcalf’s story is not isolated. Over the past decade, more than a dozen Navy SEALs have taken their own lives. In a grassroots effort, grieving families sent eight brains to the lab. Next, researchers consistently found blast damage in each (The New York Times).

Until The Times Navy They Were in the Dark 

This communication gap made Navy leaders miss a potentially critical threat to their elite special operators. When the commander of SEAL Team 1 tragically took his own life in 2022, SEAL leaders stopped nearly all operations for a day to educate the force on suicide prevention.

According to four insiders familiar with the commander’s case, his brain later revealed extensive blast damage. However, because this was never communicated to the leaders, the threat of blast exposure remained unaddressed.

The Hidden Epidemic of Brain Injuries in the Military

The silent suffering of Navy SEALs and USMC personnel

  • Many service members, including decorated Navy SEALs, suffer from brain injuries without proper recognition or support.
  • Lack of awareness/resources leads to devastating consequences.

Evidence shows damage might be widespread among living SEALs. A Harvard study scanned the brains of 30 career Special Operators. Experts discovered altered brain structures and compromised brain functions in most. 

This study, funded by Special Operations Command, represents ongoing efforts to understand TBI/CTE/MTBI. The principal study author briefed the top leaders, including those from the Navy SEALs. 

“We have a moral obligation to protect the cognitive health and combat effectiveness of our teammates,” expressed Rear Adm. Keith Davids, commander of Navy Special Warfare, which encompasses the SEALs. He mentioned that the Navy aims to reduce brain injuries “by limiting blast exposure and actively participating in medical research.” 

Yet, without suicide data, a significant piece of the puzzle was overlooked in the briefing. 

This communication breakdown reflects a broader disconnect within the Defense Department. Despite investing nearly a billion annually in brain injury research, information rarely trickles down to the ranks. 

Metcalf’s wife, Jamie, views his death as his desperate attempt to draw attention to the problem. 

Often, doctors treating injured troops diagnose psychiatric disorders and miss the underlying physical damage. Much of what is labeled as post-traumatic stress disorder might stem from repeated blast exposures. 

The stories of SEALs who died by suicide reveal a distressing trend within this elite force. 

Their average age was 43. None had injuries from enemy fire. All of them had spent years using various powerful weapons, jumping from airplanes, blowing open doors with explosives, diving deep underwater, and mastering hand-to-hand combat. 

Around the age of 40, many began struggling with insomnia and headaches, memory and coordination issues, depression, confusion, and, at times, rage.

“The first thing people think is it must be PTSD, but that never made sense to me — it didn’t fit,” said Jennifer Collins, whose husband, David Collins, was a SEAL for 20 years and died in 2014.

Specializing in representing injured U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) and Navy SEALS members, the firm proactively approaches these often-overlooked cases. Recognizing veterans’ unique conditions and hardships, Ehline Law meticulously builds each case to ensure service members receive the full benefits and compensation they deserve. 

Marine Brain Injuries

The alarming rate of suicide among military personnel with brain injuries

  • The Marine Corps ruled Lance Cpl. Riley Schultz’s death was a suicide, which his family disputes.
  • Military Families for Justice is highlighting accountability and justice.

Lance Cpl. Riley Schultz and his military honors

  • Schultz was stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California, and was found shot at his post.
  • Initially, the Marine Corps told his family his death was not suicide and he would receive full military honors.

The need for accountability and justice for victims and their families

  • The change in ruling meant that Schultz would not receive an official memorial at Camp Pendleton, and his family would not receive military benefits.

Seeking Justice and Healing

The importance of suing for justice and accountability

  • A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction against the Navy, citing its history of denying religious exemptions.
  • The lawsuit, filed in November, highlights the need for justice in brain injuries.

Can Wives/Survivors Sue?

Suing the U.S. Navy or any branch of the military for injuries, including brain injuries that may lead to suicide, is a complex process. It typically involves understanding and navigating laws and regulations like the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) and the Feres Doctrine. 

Here are some steps and considerations: 

  1. Feres Doctrine: This legal principle generally prevents active-duty military personnel from suing the federal government for injuries that are “incident to service.” This often includes injuries sustained during training or deployment.
  2. Veterans Affairs (VA) Claims: Although suing the Navy directly might be difficult due to the Feres Doctrine, you can file a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs for benefits related to service-connected disabilities, including mental health issues and brain injuries.
  3. Legal Counsel: Given the complexity of these cases, consulting with an attorney specializing in military law and veterans’ benefits is essential. They can provide personalized advice based on specifics.
  4. Documentation: Gather all relevant medical records, service records, and any documentation related to your husband’s injury, treatment, and the circumstances surrounding his condition.
  5. Statutes of Limitations: Be aware of any time limits for filing claims or lawsuits, as these can vary depending on the type of claim and jurisdiction.
  6. Support Services: Consider contacting organizations that support military families and veterans. They offer resources, support, and sometimes legal assistance.

If your goal is compensation for your husband, father, or other qualifying family member, consulting with a specialized attorney will provide you with advice tailored to your circumstances. You may not be entitled to anything unless we can work with people like Eddie Gallagher and get attention on this subject. 

The lack of recognition and support for brain injury victims

  • The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General reported inconsistent identification and assessment of traumatic brain injuries.
  • The Defense Department failed to implement a consistent process to manage traumatic brain injuries.

Devastating Consequences of Untreated Brain Injuries

  • Symptoms include persistent headaches, fatigue, memory issues, and trouble sleeping, leading to anxiety, depression, and aggression.
  • Untreated brain injuries can lead to suicide, as seen in the case of Lance Cpl. Riley Schultz.

Chris Nowinski, Ph.D.’s Advocacy for Brain Injury Awareness

  • As a neuroscientist, Nowinski deeply understands brain injury and its effects.
  • He is dedicated to ending CTE and promoting concussion safety.

Advocacy and Awareness: Eddie Gallagher’s Mission 

I follow Eddie Gallagher on Twitter. He is a retired Navy SEAL and an advocate for warriors with TBIs. Gallagher raises awareness about the toll of brain injuries, exposes the Defense Department’s weak approach, and champions the call for a tracking system. We agree that there should be exposure logs, even during training scenarios. Tell the Secretary of the Navy.

The need for support and resources for brain injury victims and their families

The Paul Ehline Ride: A Journey for Justice 

The Paul Ehline Ride stands as a symbol of the cause, fighting against PTSD and cancer. This annual event sees Michael Ehline, a renowned injury lawyer for the USMC, hitting the road. He and veteran motorcycle riders generate awareness and support for military members with TBIs. The ride raises crucial funds to help every mother and family left behind. It also reminds us of the shared sacrifices and the collective effort to address this issue. 

Since you are likely barred from suing for negligence, since it’s the military, people like Michael Ehline fight for legislation to protect the survivors. By combining legal prowess with heartfelt advocacy, Ehline Law aims to spotlight a drive for meaningful change. Ehline Law makes it happen for brain-injured victims and wounded motorcyclists at Camp Pendleton 24/7.


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Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.