I'm in a profession that puts me in intense situations essentially on a daily basis. However, I didn't choose to create that type of life for myself out of some adrenaline fixation - although I'd be lying if I said I didn't have the most exciting job in the world two percent of the time! There is a saying in the protection business: it consists of 98% boredom and 2% terror and chaos! I do it to help people and to protect them. It's something that I've been doing for my entire life.
In 1989 I made the most important decision of my entire life and one that I'm still thankful for each and every day. I joined the U.S. Army, completed training and was assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Fort Lewis in Washington. As a Ranger Sniper, I was responsible for long-range target interdiction and reconnaissance. There were other jobs and missions, but this was my primary roll.
Throughout my time in the military, I've seen a lot. I've been involved in everything from airfield seizures to perimeter security. After that, I served as an Assault Team Member trained for counter terrorism and hostage rescue. Over the years I've held more high-threat security contract positions than I can count in areas like Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and more.
Today, I'm providing up close and personal protection to some high value clients in the United States. I'm continuing to do exactly what I believe I was put here for - help people who are in need in any way that I can.
As you might expect, I've experienced many "coming to Jesus" moments throughout my career. When you're looking danger straight in the eye and are refusing to back down, you almost can't help it. There's an old expression that says "there's no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole." In my experience, that expression couldn't have more truth to it.
When we think of the concept of the warrior, we think of the image that we're presented in feature films and television shows. Think of a movie like "300" - just a few hundred brave men up against an army that may have an infinite number of people in it. Despite those insurmountable odds, they scream in the face of danger and refuse to back down. They push and they push until they can't possibly push anymore, and then somehow they find the fortitude to do it anyway.
Though that image is certainly an attractive one, it isn't necessarily entirely accurate. The image of the warrior isn't always aligned with the reality of the warrior. More often than not, that image is usually lacking a single important quality - fear.
We live in a society that regularly looks down on fear. I've been in enough dangerous situations throughout my life and if I'm sure of anything, it's that fear is just a part of the job. I embrace fear with absolutely no shame and I think that everyone should be able to do so, too. Just because I experience fear doesn't mean that I'm not a warrior. It means that I'm a human being. Fear is one of the most natural, chemical reactions that your body can go through. Your brain releases adrenaline and makes you hyper-sensitive. Fear is one of the driving forces behind every decision that I make on a daily basis. I don't look at fear as something to be hidden or something shameful in any way - I look at it as something to be embraced. Fear is part of what makes me "alive." If I were to try to deny fear, it would be no different than denying sweating, breathing or any other natural human function.
Now, this outlook on fear isn't something that I've always had. It certainly took me awhile to settle in on what I now consider to be one of the most important tenants of my life. However, it's now something that I fully embrace and even take the opportunity to highlight when I'm mentoring up-and-coming warriors. Fear isn't a weakness - it's your connection to God. It's your driving force that gives you the ability to do exactly what you have to, even in spite of that fear. Those "300" warriors may not have looked scared, but trust me - they were. And they did what had to be done anyway.
One of the keys to dealing with fear is learning how to take away the right message from it. Fear is actually something that breeds trust, which is one of the most important qualities that a warrior can have. In the SOF community, people working alongside each other come to trust each other based on a huge number of different factors, including the gear that they carry. You don't just trust the man as a person - you just the whole package. Part of that includes what he's wearing, what he's using and how good at he is at using it.
Personally, the people I trust through my life are the people that went through the same training I did. I know what kind of man that training made me and I know what it did to them, too. "Training" is almost too soft of a word to use to describe what members of the Armed Forces go through, though to be fair that is essentially what it is. If I'm being honest, though, it just doesn't quite cut it. Personally, I think that calling what members of the Armed Forces go through a "Warrior Factory" might be much more appropriate. It certainly has a much better ring to it.
Pain, fear and bravery. Take it from me - there ain't no shame in any of those.