In the Press...
APP story on Rep. Smith's amendment passing House 362-64'Manalapan man's death could boost SEALs care'
'Mom pushed for improved medical procedures takes a step forward in US House'
Asbury Park Press Staff Writer
In the months after Manalapan’s Kyle Mullen died while trying to become a Navy SEAL because he did not receive the proper medical attention, his mother Regina Mullen has sought to reform the process.
Her quest took a step forward Thursday.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 362 to 64 to include an amendment, titled “Kyle Mullen Naval Safety Enhancements,” to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2023.
The amendment was authored by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, whose congressional district includes Manalapan. It “directs the Secretary of Defense to conduct an appraisal of and provide recommended policies for improved medical care and oversight of individuals in the Navy engaged in high-stress training like the Navy SEALs to better ensure sailor safety and prevent related long-term injury, illness, and death,” Smith said in remarks on the House floor Wednesday.
Kyle Mullen, a former football and basketball standout at Manalapan High School who later played football at Yale and Monmouth universities, died Feb. 4 in San Diego hours after completing the grueling portion of SEAL training known as “Hell Week.”
“This sailor had completed Hell Week and was being looked after by nonmedical personnel to help him tend to his basic needs,” the autopsy report read. “He was in a wheelchair most of the time, unable to stand and walk on his own. He had reportedly been coughing/spitting up red-tinged fluid which had nearly filled a 36-oz. sports drink bottle.”
Over the course of several interviews with the Asbury Park Press, Regina Mullen repeated her concern that this was not an isolated tragedy but the product of a systemic failure — that the lack of medical attention for SEAL candidates is a built-in part of the training process. That concern was echoed by another Navy SEAL candidate who told the Press he nearly died due to lack of medical attention after he dropped out of Hell Week.
“Kyle’s mother, Regina, a nurse, told me in a heartbreaking conversation in her home that Kyle’s death could have been prevented had her son received timely medical attention,” Smith said on the House floor. “Regina has many questions that demand answers. Meanwhile, this grieving mom has made it clear and with great urgency and resolve that Congress and DOD (Department of Defense) must insist that medical care, aggressive monitoring and oversight be provided now — without delay — to every Navy SEAL candidate during high-stress training.”
A separate investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service into why Mullen went untreated until it was too late remains ongoing.
Jerry Carino is community columnist for the Asbury Park Press, focusing on the Jersey Shore’s interesting people, inspiring stories and pressing issues.This story ran on page 1 of the jULY 15, 2022 print edition of the Asbury Park Press and can be found at: