This author has been out of federal government and military service for a while now — officially about six years — and as my service in that capacity recedes into the background, I have noted two things happening in my life.  First, I am accumulating a new set of experiences as a city firefighter and EMT, with all that those jobs entail.  New challenges and new “enemies” — fire and heroin epidemics, for example — are supplanting old enemies like al Qaida in my limited brain space.

I spend much more time these days thinking about structure fires than I do about the hierarchy of leadership within al Qaida and other terrorist groups.  No, I have not completely stopped thinking about those terrorism issues, but I am no longer an expert in them.  I no longer have the benefit of receiving newly acquired intelligence on a daily basis, nor do I spend my waking hours engrossed in the subject like I once did.

Secondly, experiences from my military and CIA days have recently begun to recede back into that space in my mind reserved for things that happened “back in the day.”  As that service moves further and further into the past, the associated memories have also begun to change and evolve, as I suspect they have for all veterans who have moved out of the military and national security world.

As an example of this phenomenon, take a look at this recently produced video from former Army Ranger Mat Best.  You will note a similar evolution occurring within him, as well it seems (although I hesitate to speak for anyone else’s experience).  The symbolism of Best turning away from the “military” version of himself depicted in the video — as he runs away from the uniformed figure into the desert landscape — is hard to miss.

It seems natural, furthermore, that at some point this change in perspective will affect all veterans, even those who write, speak, or produce videos professionally concerning their military and national security experiences.  Again, see this author as an example.

This is all a long and too-wordy way of saying that life moves on, and our perspective changes.  Our experiences gain new meaning, and we adopt an altered outlook as we become more mature.  All of those changes, though, are still based upon the foundations of those growing-older memories and experiences.  This is not to say that we will stop thinking about — or writing or speaking about — those experiences, but rather, that they will begin to take on new meaning within our individual and collective consciousness.

So, with that lengthy preamble in place, this author humbly submits a revised list of signs that one might have served in the “Long War” against Islamic terrorism in any of the myriad theaters in which that war has played out since 9/11.  My original list can be found here on SOFREP.

1. As a veteran, you have begun to more astutely differentiate between the various Islamic terrorist groups facing America.  There are the “old guys” — Hezbollah and al Qaida, for example — who have almost become “quaint” in their familiarity.  Then there are the newer players — like ISIS — who are still viewed as the immediate threat, but who themselves have also even begun to seem less existentially dangerous as time has passed.  Finally, there are the new groups you fear might pop up in the future, or the random individuals who are radicalized and carrying out attacks on their own.  They still scare you for what they might do to civilians in your own country.