"Having those failures exposed in the media helps us do a better job," McRaven said. "So sometimes the spotlight on us makes us better."
The admiral said he was working hard to give his 66,000-person force more predictability on when and where they would be deployed — the key request he heard from families and troops, to help them cope with the unrelenting special-operations deployments.
He also stressed that he was working to break down the stigma of seeking help to deal with combat stress.
"If you have been engaged in this war for any length of time, you are fundamentally changed," from the emotional effects of combat, he said. But special operators' typically don't seek help for emotional problems, he said.
"I encourage them to come in. We're not going to pull their security clearances," McRaven said. "We're going to take care of them."
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