Those in SOF are people, not war machines. They aren’t mere blunt instruments and just professional killers.

It takes a whole lot more than just your ability to be and fit and shoot to make it in SOF. But, I’m not sure everyone sees it that way. Sometimes, civilians most easily comprehend our backgrounds by making a broad stroke. Personally, as an 18D – SF Medic I just become a ‘medic.’ It’s especially annoying because to defend yourself it’s difficult not to downplay the role of medics in the infantry. The reality is that was my de-facto specialty and responsibility, but not reflective of the nature of your only role on an A team. This isn’t band of brothers where I sat in the back, disgruntled, smoking cigarettes, and would appear with a tourniquet. Everyone has a role, and everyone has a gun in the fight. But so much of our national security is broken down into comprehensible pieces by our civilian population.

Recently, I watched ’13 Hours’. I liked it. One thing became clear to me. Contractors – who were ex-SOF – were seen as blunt instruments and one-dimensional people. Maybe that’s how everyone sees us, and perhaps, it’s partially right. We’re told we’re special, it’s right there on your uniform – you see it. That feeling of specialness leads to a lot of disappointment in the civilian world. Nobody has to care – and many don’t. Everyone is looking for the fantasy version of things and the idea of the warriors in Call of Duty. People have false images of the tip of the spear that when they meet anyone from SOF and discover they’re human, they assume you aren’t quite the SOF they believed existed.

At some point, we became obsessed with direct action and a Call of Duty lifestyle. But the events in Call of Duty are worst case scenarios. In that alternate reality, everyone is going to have a gun in the fight because it’s all-out war.