The Blue Angels’ Psychological Warfare

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50396819@N00/115701382/">Black Glenn</a>/Flickr

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Today is the penultimate day of San Francisco’s annual Fleet Week, during which communists like myself complain about the Navy’s wasteful expenditure of taxpayer dollars on jet fuel so the Blue Angels can do acrobatics overhead. As Navy F-18s have screamed past my house, giving the city the feel of a battlefield, I’ve been thinking, “This is probably not going well for some people.” Like people who have been traumatized in war zones and whose post-traumatic stress may be triggered by the noise.

Sure enough, a massage therapist I was talking to mentioned that while he was working on a relocated Iraqi woman this weekend, the roar of the Blue Angels’ engines sent her into a cowering panic attack on the massage table. That was sad, but not as sad/scary as the Navy SEAL he was working on who suddenly leaped off the table, flipped the massage therapist, and pinned him down by his throat.

Kind of sounds like something that would happen in a movie, but that’s definitely not just Hollywood melodrama. A lot of people who grew up amid war or went to war, the masseuse said, can be triggered by innocuous noises like low-flying jets or backfiring cars even in the profoundly safe and calming setting of a massage. And unexpected—and uncontrollable—triggering is only going to become a more prevalent problem; an estimated one in five Iraq and Afghanistan vets suffers PTSD. Already, some areas hold extra support groups during firework season. With more vets coming home all the time, maybe the Navy should consider making counseling part of its Fleet Week program next year.

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate