WASHINGTON – A former Navy SEAL has told ABC News he is struggling to cope with the onslaught of Christmas gifts that has swamped him.
Ryan Hickey was a private in the Navy, a Navy SEAL for nine years and is currently a private contractor in California.
Hickey is now on disability, having undergone a spinal surgery in the fall.
“I had to take a very serious, medically necessary, long-term break from my life,” he said.
He said that even though he is not a member of the military, he feels compelled to put his work and service behind him to help others.
The military has been on edge this year, with a record number of soldiers dying in the line of duty, according to the Pentagon.
This year, there have been nearly 2,000 suicides, according the military.
More than two dozen states have seen a surge in suicides and coronavirus cases.
In 2016, the U.S. recorded more than 100,000 deaths from coronaviruses and 1.7 million deaths from other causes.
For Hickey, Christmas has been a struggle.
Every year, he has a list of his Christmas gifts, including presents from his family, he said, but he feels he has been missing out.
While he does enjoy his holidays, Hickey is still struggling to find the right time to shop.
On Christmas morning, he is looking to see if he can get some Christmas tree decorations from the local hardware store.
But he has to be careful when he does shop, as the store is closed.
A few days before Christmas, he went into the hardware store and was shocked to find that the employees were giving out Christmas decorations.
It was almost as if they were saying, ‘You’re not allowed to have Christmas decorations, so we’re going to sell you some of our stuff,'” he said of the staff.
I was just really surprised and really sad.
So, I decided to go back and buy some Christmas trees.
I went back and bought a couple of big, big ones, and that’s when I was really upset and just kind of felt really alone.
Even though Hickey works as a contractor, he works with the military and he has spent Christmas with his family.
He said he feels it is important for his son to come home from his deployment and experience the Christmas season.
Now, Hicker says he has found that he has no time to visit his son and the rest of his family on Christmas Eve.
That’s what makes Christmas special, he added.
When I went to the store, I had the whole store to myself.
I was just like, ‘Wow, this is not the holiday that I wanted to have.’
And I’m like, you know what, I guess that’s kind of the way it is for me, too.
Watch the full interview on ABC News at 11 p.m. ET.