According to NPR, the Navy has witnessed a disproportionately high number of deserters in the last three years compared to other branches of the US military, prompting concerns about mental health.
According to Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Devin Arneson, there were 157 sailors who unlawfully left the Navy this year, up from 63 in 2019 and a 150 percent rise since 2020 (98).
According to research, the number of deserters has decreased under Trump’s presidency.
From 2019 to 2021, Army desertions decreased by 47%, from 328 to 174, while Marine Corps desertions decreased by 31%, from 59 in 2019 to 31 in 2021. Between 2019 and 2021, the Coast Guard had not had a deserter.
Desertion can result in a dishonorable discharge, salary forfeiture, benefits loss, or possibly jail time.
According to Kral, mental health issues do not usually result in release because greater mental health care to assist the enlisted is sought.
“Somebody who’s suffering with an acute mental health crisis. It should not ordinarily result in a mental health discharge. What should happen is that they receive the care and treatment that they need to be ready to rehab their mental health and then go back to being a member of the fleet. Unfortunately, that’s not always what we see,” she continued.
Junior service members, according to Kral, require additional care to cope with the strains of duty.
“Regardless of what upper-level leadership says about eradicating the stigma of mental health in our services,” Kral told reporters, “that does not play out when you get down to the boots on the ground or the deck-plate level of actual experiences of junior service members.”