Sat. Nov 26th, 2022

By the last day of Hell Week, candidates told Navy investigators, Seaman Mullen was barely coherent and so swollen that one sailor said he looked “like the Michelin Man.” That day, the oxygen in Seaman Mullen’s blood reached dangerously low levels, and the medical staff gave him supplemental oxygen, according to the report.

A few hours later, at the end of Hell Week, medical staff said he was fine, but he left the medical exam in a wheelchair, too sick to walk.

The medical staff gave the sailors a written briefing a short time after that, instructing them in capital letters not to seek outside medical help, because it could jeopardize their training. After the briefing, the staff members went home, leaving the base medical clinic empty, the report said. Seaman Mullen died a few hours later.

The details of Seaman Mullen’s struggle echo what many sailors say they have experienced in recent years at BUD/S. In interviews with The New York Times, nearly two dozen sailors said the brutal training course left them with significant injuries and illnesses, including broken arms, broken legs, a broken back, serious concussions, debilitating pneumonia and a potentially fatal condition called rhabdomyolysis, but they were denied medical care and told they would have to quit the course before they could see a doctor.

The sailors asked not to be named because they are still in the Navy, and are not authorized to speak publicly.

After Seaman Mullen died, Naval authorities found testosterone and human growth hormone in his car. Medical reports said there was no evidence that the drugs contributed to Seaman Mullen’s death, and his family says they do not believe he ever took them. The Navy report said that after Seaman Mullen’s death, 51 other SEAL candidates were removed from training over concerns about drug use.

The former SEAL candidates interviewed by The Times said that drugs were common in BUD/S, and that many sailors saw them as the only way to get through the grueling course. They see Seaman Mullen’s death and the proliferation of drug use as symptoms of larger problems with a course that became so savagely intense that it injured many sailors but often did not give them access to medical care.



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