The Quiet Professional is not easily defined because of being shrouded by a mysterious history that can be traced back to the early days of WWII at Fort Bragg’s Camp Mackall (Special Forces, 2019). Lara Logan reports on the process of readying Afghans to fight on their own in her 60 Minutes article, Green Berets: The Quiet Professionals: “Few people realize that the Green Berets traditional role is to train foreign armies – the only arm of the military designed especially for this purpose. These operators are known as the “Quiet Professionals” because they work mostly in secret, unnoticed and unrecognized, among the best soldiers America has. For the most part, these “quiet professionals” are camera shy Joes who let their expertise do their talking” (Logan, 2010). According to U.S. Army Special Forces Recruiting site:
The simple, but time-tested, phrase “Quiet Professionals” best describes our SOF ethic and culture – the principles we live by and the behaviors and beliefs we exhibit every day. We are a values-based organization – always mindful that our personal and professional conduct reflects not only on ourselves but on our Nation. We are focused on contributing to the mission at hand and being a well-integrated part of the team – unconcerned with who gets the credit and recognizing that much of what we do will remain in the shadows. We support the Geographic Combatant Commanders (GCCs) – if they are successful, we are successful; if they fail, we fail.” (Special Forces, 2019)
One Quiet Professional interviewed best describes by self-reflection: “The Quiet Professional is the guy that actually does the deeds, does the hard jobs without asking or seeking fame, fortune or recognition. He does it because he believes in what he is doing, and his sense of selfless service overrides his need for the acknowledgement of others” (Quiet Professional #5).
In communications with RN Sarah McNary the former Lead TBI Nurse Case Manager attached to the USSOCOM Warrior Care Coalition at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (2012- 2017) McNary asserts, “I 100% support your idea that routine neuroendocrine monitoring (and lead levels while we’re at it!), similar to optometry, audiology and dental requirements would be a very smart preventative measure to institute.” If such screening were to be implemented, it stands to reason that the incidence of Low-T could be more fully addressed, conceivably lowering the incidence of grave depression that precedes attempts of suicide among Quiet Professionals. Thus, many lives could potentially be saved by a simple and routine screening for Low-T.
To the outsider, the Quiet Professional is regarded as a fierce warrior and a strong individual who is capable of tremendous feats. Emotion is kept at bay in order to accomplish their given missions. Therefore, so many of them have difficulty expressing what they are truly feeling when they leave military service and transition to a normal civilian lifestyle. For years they have trained to endure pain and other stressors in extreme austere conditions. These Quiet Professionals with such high self-standards and intense work ethic live by a code and find it almost impossible to openly admit their weaknesses, therefore they suffer in silence instead of getting the help they need, which may be remedied by something as simple as a blood test to check testosterone levels. One of the questions I asked off all my respondents was their thoughts about the possibility of a connection between Low-T, depression and suicide and all agreed a likelihood does exists. One was very candid about his feelings:
Depression, anxiety, irritability and other mood changes are common in men with Low-T. However, from what I’ve read, researchers aren’t sure what causes the correlation.
Think of an Operator, a type A warrior and then you have these problems with Low-T: irritability, anxiety, sadness, low sex drive, memory problems, trouble concentrating and sleep problems. These are all things that we view as weakness. So sure, Low-T in Operators can cause depression. We see ourselves as less then what we have been trained and told we are and what we believe we are. We believe we aren’t men anymore, we’re weak, aren’t what the movies, memes and what our brothers think we are. So, we suffer in silence and that increases our depression. Feelings of inadequacy, failure and why we see so many SOF dudes struggle with alcoholism, suicide, etc. (Quiet Professional #3).
America has been fighting the War on Terror for nearly two decades and the incidence of veteran suicide has been increasing exponentially. Hard but valuable lessons come from “combat” whether they be new advances in battlefield medicine, tactics such as the use of Special Forces force multipliers or the more recent focus on mental health and the early indications of depression. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines depression as a mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies (depression, 2019).
A man’s serum total testosterone levels decline by 1 to 2% annually beginning at about age 30. In addition, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) levels increase with aging, causing an even greater decline in serum free and bioavailable testosterone. These age-related changes are referred to as the andropause, although there are no abrupt changes in hormone levels and corresponding symptoms as occur in the menopause. The decline in testosterone may contribute to a combination of symptoms that has been termed androgen deficiency of the aging male (ADAM), which includes age-related muscle loss, increased fat deposition, osteopenia, loss of libido, erectile dysfunction and cognitive decline. Men are diagnosed with hypogonadism if they have these symptoms along with low serum testosterone and are eligible for treatment with supplemental testosterone. Testosterone supplementation in men with low-normal levels of testosterone is controversial (Hirsch, 2019).
CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE