Suicide of SEAL Team 6 members stimulates new veterans’ mental health efforts

The spouse was waiting for her husband after a tougher deployment when the wire mesh gate slid open at a military airfield in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Still wearing a camouflage uniform, the SEAL Team 6 operator reunited with his wife that night in the summer of 2009. Sydney Marder went forward to hug her husband Bill Marder, but soon realized something was wrong.

“I never forget that. He looked physically different and something changed,” Sydney told Yahoo News. “They were very active. He said they went out on their mission almost every night.”

Bill worked hard to serve the U.S. Navy’s most elite troops, famous for counterterrorism operations around the world, but joined the Navy before the war on terrorism and served SEAL Team 5. He was assigned to Gold Squadron after being elected to SEAL Team 6 in 2004. As the pace of the war increased, Bill was in a constant cycle of deployment, but he honed his skills and built a reputation as a capable operator.

Upon returning home, Bill and Sydney usually sit down and talk about the deployment in the beer case, but this time it’s not. Bill, one of the country’s most decorated naval seals, didn’t want to talk about it and even told her she needed a break. The Navy has found a position in San Antonio as a SEAL recruiter where he can relax a bit. But he hated it — he hated his job, hated leaving his teammates, and began to sink into alcohol abuse.

Bill Mulder

Navy Sealville Murder committed suicide in 2017. (Provided by Sydney Murder)

Then, in 2011, Extortion 17 was shot from the sky. The twin-rotor CH-47 Chinook helicopter was transporting operators from the Gold squadron to the ground ranger element in Wardak, Afghanistan, when it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. The crash killed all 38 soldiers, including 17 Navy seals. Most of them were friends of Bill of the Gold Squadron.

“They were Bill’s brothers,” said Sydney. “It was terrible. The crash caused a lot of collateral damage.”

From his home in San Antonio, Bill was calling from his teammates while Sydney was talking to his spouse. Watching the news of the crash, they both wept, nodded to each other, and silently decided to return to SEAL Team 6. I sold my house in three months and returned to Virginia Beach to attend. funeral. Bill was assigned to the latest squadron of units created during the war called the Silver Sentai.

However, the war went on without Bill and Sydney, and the culture of the troops changed.

Bill Mulder

“I will never forget it. He looked physically different. Something has changed,” he said.

“Add this influx of new people. I think Bill couldn’t find his place when we returned. It was just terrible, it was terrible,” Sydney said. rice field. In the Silver squadron, Bill slammed into the team leader, even though the team leader deployed almost immediately.

The team leader was the position Bill wanted to create, but alcoholism had an impact on his performance at work. “His sleep deprivation was a constant anger and these explosions,” Sydney explained, explaining how he changed. “Paranoia was big. His memory was beginning to be affected, he was always losing things,” Sydney said, these behavioral changes were post-traumatic stress and traumatic. It results in brain damage.

At this point, SEAL Team 6 leadership knew he was having a hard time and found a position to survive until he retired for the rest of the time. In the meantime, he tried therapy, including art therapy, and received outpatient treatment at a specialized clinic at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, but he felt unhappy because he couldn’t get the position of team leader. At the same time, with his retirement imminent, Bill will have to make a major transition to the lives of civilians. The music was about to stop.

Bill and Sydney retired to San Antonio for several months as things got worse, where they spent a lot of time alone. Unknown to Sydney, Bill was trying to stay in the game. He applied to the CIA’s paramilitary organization but was rejected. Sydney and Bill were also trying to repair their relationship as Sydney was preparing to move their three children to Texas and spend time with them. Bill said he had enrolled in a brain treatment center, but there was no evidence of that.

“We lost each other,” said Sydney.

On June 9, 2017, Bill was using FaceTime with his kids and one of them asked why he looked sad. He told the children he was sad because he hadn’t seen him for a long time. When the kids were upset, Sydney picked up the phone and started walking upstairs, telling Bill that he shouldn’t say that. Bill then showed her that he had a gun.

Bill Mulder

Navy Seal Bill Murder. (Provided by Sydney Mulder)

Sydney monotonously lowered her voice and tried to calm down and ease the situation, even though she was so scared that she kept the phone away from her. Bill was angry that she had a phone at a strange angle. When Sydney tried to calm him down, they made some more exchanges, but then he took his own life. Sydney already knew what had happened and called several times to contact Bill. Then she called the police. About 45 minutes later, they confirmed that Bill was found dead in his car in the parking lot.

Sydney’s brother, William Negley, was on stage to market his app — Called sound off — When he receives a call about Bill. After working for the CIA, Negley directly witnessed the psychological stress on secret secret staff in the United States. He also knew how reluctant they were to overcome the stigma associated with seeking help with mental health problems. Soundoff was created to fix that problem. But now he answered the phone and heard that what he wanted not to happen had just happened to his own brother-in-law.

For Negley, the son of a psychologist, it was already clear that mental health was a problem for the American covert operations community. “My guy trying to board a plane to get to Syria definitely has a drinking problem, and his own problem is that s *** doesn’t step into his agency OMS. I’m confident. [the CIA’s Office of Medical Services] “Let’s talk about my drinking problem,” Negrey said. “The chance of it happening is zero percent.”

An obvious solution from Negray’s point of view is anonymous help by American covert operators and special operators as a way to avoid the stigma surrounding mental health care and the fear that people will lose their security clearance. It was that there should be a place to ask. The need to create such a solution was amplified by the death of Ranya Abdelsayed, who was sitting near Negray in the office. It was the CIA’s only in-theatre suicide.

Navy Seal Bill Murder

Navy Seal Bill Murder. (Provided by Sydney Mulder)

“I knew I couldn’t claim anonymous mental health support from anyone,” said Negrey, who left the CIA in 2016. So he started funding a project to build a mobile app that allows spies and operators to talk anonymously with psychologists. .. He took five years on the project when his brother-in-law Bill took his life.

Soundoff went live in Texas in January 2020 and is being run with a team of clinicians providing mental health treatments to veterans and active military personnel. Negley has partnered with various foundations to serve the special operations community to help reach those in need of SoundOff. Hundreds of veterans are serviced by Sound Off, and Negley wants to expand the service nationwide.

On the weekend after Bill took his life, Sydney was lying in bed crying for hours when his brother came to see her. Negrey sat down with her in bed and said, “Sid, this is what I have lived, studied and breathed for years.”

“We have to do something,” she replied.

“Do you want help?” Negray asked.

“F *** Yeah,” she said.