The nine years I served as a Navy SEAL platoon commander and sniper are and will always be the greatest years of my life. Every day or night I went to work — be it training or in some of the most hostile places on the planet — I knew:
- I was surrounded by the finest men this world has ever produced.
- I was surrounded by individuals all of whom I could trust with my life.
- I always had a mission that was issued with the safety of America and its citizens at its core.
- I would be challenged every day.
In summary, my service gave me a family, a mission and the ability to protect this country that I love beyond words.
Whenever people tell me, “Thanks for your service,” I simply reply, “You were worth it!”
When I’m asked what it was like to be a Navy SEAL, I honestly say, “It was the greatest job in the world!”
For me, the most challenging part about transitioning from the SEAL teams to the civilian world is that until then I didn’t realize how truly unique that experience was.
I have had to acknowledge and accept that I will NEVER be able to replicate the elite family I was surrounded by as a SEAL. I always tell people that if a grenade rolled into the room, my teammates would all try to be the first one to drop down on it.
Again, I’ve had to struggle with the fact that in the “real world,” this does not and will not ever exist.
My mentor and fellow former Navy SEAL explained it to me like this to help me cope with this frustration: “Cade, now that you’re out, you need to look at your time in the SEAL teams as if you won the lottery. Congrats, but the money is gone.”
So now when I watch the news and see the talking heads arguing about government shutdowns — which DIRECTLY affect the military, among other government agencies — it makes me sick.
Many politicians will never know what it feels like when a bullet passes by you so close that you feel the heat from it. As I’m writing this article, we have thousands of our uniformed men and women in harm’s way willing to risk their lives for this country who WILL NOT GET PAID during a shutdown.
- Because the safety and security of our country and its civilians are less important to a large percentage of our elected officials than the future of that individual’s political career
- Because the safety and security of our country are less important than the potential number of future VOTERS
- Because promises made in politics are RARELY kept.
So let me end with this message to our elected officials: Crawl out of your bubble and take a trip to Afghanistan or Iraq. Grab some body armor and a rifle and head out on patrol. Or be the first one to crash through a door not knowing what is waiting for you on the other side.
I guarantee your priorities will change.
America first — ALWAYS!