For my 26th birthday on June 26, 2000, I got something that is to this day one of my most prized possessions: a certificate stating I’d successfully completed the Naval Special Warfare (SEAL) scout sniper program. The signature on that certificate reads “Captain William H. McRaven.” Captain McRaven was on hand to officiate.
Fourteen years later, McRaven, now a four-star admiral, delivered the commencement address at the University of Texas, in a widely circulated speech titled If You Want to Change the World. In it, he talks of 10 lessons he learned in the course of SEAL training that could turn into behaviors to change the world. The first is this: Every morning, make your bed.
His point? If I look through your bedroom and poke around your kitchen, I don’t need to see your performance record, because I already have a pretty good idea of what kind of shape you’re in.
This is the man who organized and executed Operation Neptune’s Spear, the Spec Ops mission that killed Osama bin Laden. A month after giving that address, he was appointed commander of SOCOM, the entire U.S. Special Operations Command. When this guy talks about changing the world, he’s not just making noise. (The whole speech is worth watching. Just search “McRaven make your bed.”)
Modern Warriors on Fox Nation is hosted by Army combat veteran Pete Hegseth. The show provides an important platform for modern combat vets to share their stories, combat experience, thoughts on America, and why they served.
Where does the McRaven story above fit in?
Let me explain.
When I was watching the 2020 Veteran’s Day episode of Modern Warriors I saw many parallels to the important message in McRaven’s famous speech.
Pete’s show made me reflect on my own difficult military-to-civilian transition experience. I struggled with PTS, and depression after losing my close friend Navy SEAL and CIA GRS operator Glen Doherty in Benghazi, Libya. Pete is a good guy to get these warriors to tell their stories too. He was an officer in the NY National Guard where it’s possible to live pretty comfortably. Instead, he deployed to Guantanamo Bay to guard terrorist detainees, then to Afghanistan before he volunteered to go to Iraq where he was an Infantry Platoon Leader with the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division. He could have just worked a cushy gig at Wall Street bank, but he didn’t. He chose to live a part of the history being made rather than just watch from the sidelines.
My hope is that hearing the important stories of Modern Warriors will encourage voting Americans and modern politicos to think twice when it comes to how the U.S. fights its future wars. History may be written by academics, but it is the modern warrior who makes that history and does the living and dying within it.
I think about my own time in Afghanistan early in 2001. My deployment in 2001 had a purpose; after 2003 I didn’t see much purpose to America staying an additional 20 years.
What did we accomplish strategically for America in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars? Nothing noteworthy, I’d say.
I’ve told the story before. About my dinner with a room full of defense sector executives and former General Counsel for the U.S. Air Force Mary Walker, who, when I asked her what we really hoped to accomplish in Afghanistan in 2011, gave the honest answer of “I’m not sure.”
Years later and it’s the same in DC, and that’s why we need to hear from the modern warriors on Peter’s show now more than ever.
I’m grateful that FOX Nation is giving veterans a platform to tell their stories because America needs to hear front-line perspectives from the men and women who’ve shouldered the burden of its longest-fought war.
These stories need to be told and I hope America has the courage to listen.
This article was originally published in May 2021.