Sean Matson, who recently left active duty as a Navy SEAL, said the military measured his head four times — each time before deployment — with plans to provide him a more advanced ballistic helmet.
But the new helmet never materialized. During a deployment in Africa, Matson and six of his fellow SEALs each shelled out about $900 for updated helmets that held the lights, communications devices and batteries needed for their missions.
“There was never a clear solution to it, so guys were going out spending $800-$900 on their own ballistic helmet,” said Matson, who is now CEO of the military supply company Matbock.
Elite troops such as the SEALs are more and more forced to dip into their own pockets to purchase basic military gear such as helmets, global positioning devices and medical supplies, according to Matson and others involved in the military’s unofficial civilian-side supply network who came to Capitol Hill on Thursday.
House lawmakers have taken notice and said they will request an explanation from Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
“These are the guys we assume have the best gear all the time,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, a Marine Corps combat veteran.
Hunter said special operations troops have been approaching him in his California district complaining about the inability to get needed materials and he has been investigating the issue.