Everyone has been hitting me up about the recent OAF Nation article titled “When the Music Stops.” So I finally took some time to sit down and thoroughly read through it. To be honest, I agree with a lot of the article but there are several things I want to say about it.
“I am always humbled in the presence of warriors.” Those are the words of US Navy SEAL Captain Pete Van Hooser and they were the motivating factor behind my every action while I was enlisted. Afghanistan is drawing down, but I didn’t decide to join the Marines because of Afghanistan, it was never a factor in my decision. I enlisted because I wanted to earn a place within an elite brotherhood. I wanted to stand beside men who were more concerned with my well being than they were their own lives. I joined because I wanted to serve and my call to duty was solely based on my personal courage.
The author states “our purpose in life had just disappeared” because the drawdown in Afghanistan. My purpose in life has not fucking disappeared. Combat is not and never will be something that I enjoy. Ironically, it is the only negative thing about serving in a combat role. Every time an IED went off or shots were fired, I was scared to death. Not because I was afraid of being killed or injured, but because I didn’t want to lose anymore of my brothers. My purpose in life is to ensure my brothers come home and then to do whatever I can to look out for them after they get home. My purpose is to train my Marines, to prepare for our next fight. You are mistaken if you think this is our final fight, but you are fool to wish for war.
A generation of heroes have shaped the face of the United States of America in the defense of our nation and sacrificed themselves upon the alter of freedom. These wars over the last few years have changed us but they do not define us. We did our jobs and we kicked ass. Who cares about the end game or the political agenda. As Marines, we serve one purpose: to fight.
“The ROE’s have been so neutered that they’ve become a detriment to the troops.” Tell that to anyone in my unit and they will all give the same answer: “What the fuck is an ROE?” Maybe this question of “What now?” is more prevelant in other services or units, but for me and my Marine brothers, we know “what now”, it is part of our creed: “So be it, until victory is America’s and there is no enemy.” We understand that now we prepare for our next fight. We have an opportunity to train hard and learn from our experiences. For my brothers who have been pushed out in the bullshit Reduction in Force and are hurting for that sense of pride again, I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunities out there that will allow you to continue to be a warrior.
Contrary to the article, contracts are not drying up. They are becoming more competetive because of the influx in qualified warriors. After the military draws down later this year in Afghanistan, a significant amount of opportunities will arise. Is contracting the only option? No. Opportunities such as the Department of Energy Nuclear Materials Courier Federal Agent where you can drive nukes around the country kitted out like fucking Delta, or the Department of State Security Protective Specialist where you deploy to high threat locations like Afghanistan and Pakistan. Both require no degree and value your military/combat experience. It is just about knowing where to look. If you want to continue to serve in the military, there are numerous opportunities for prior service; the Army will take you in a heart beat for Special Forces and the Navy will take you for SEAL.
Our good friend, former US Navy SEAL Lt. Jason Redman puts it best:
“The end of an era. On Aug. 28, 2013, I finally retired from the United States Navy after almost twenty one years of service. It was a surreal moment as I stood surrounded by friends, family, and icons of the Naval Special Warfare community, as they recalled my service to the Navy and our great nation.
As I listened to friends and family remember, I thought to myself, “this ends a part of my life that I fought so adamantly to obtain.” Interestingly, though, I did not feel sorrow, merely satisfaction. My career did not end the way I had planned. I had always aspired to command a SEAL Team someday, but alas, life has a way of altering our course, and mine was definitely altered in that firefight in September of 2007. People often ask me, “Do you regret it? Would you change what happened if you could?” and the honest answer is no. What I went through, I hope no one has to go through. It is a painful and often times disheartening journey, but as with many hard lessons I learned through the military it taught me who I am. It taught me what I am truly made of and what it is to lead, regardless of the circumstances you are placed in. In this view, I know my career, strewn with hard lessons learned but ending on a high note of achievement, is exactly how it was meant to happen and I look forward to taking these lessons learned through my Naval Special Warfare career and sharing them with the world. Long Live the Brotherhood.” – LT (SEAL) Jason C. Redman (retired)
The Global War on Terror is far from over and our enemies are only growing in strength and numbers. We have dedicated out lives to a great cause and it was not for nothing, it was for each other. We are warriors, and for us, the music never stops.