I just submitted this to the NY Times. -Brandon

It’s a strange place I find myself these days, in my late thirties, and faced with the reality of friends, SEAL brothers, lost and gone from my life. The most recent of which is my friend Chris Kyle, and Glen Doherty six months earlier. I find myself often re-reading saved emails from the guys, it gives me comfort and the occasional much needed laugh or cry, and I’m not afraid to admit the latter.  Real men cry, and there’s no shame in it.

I’ve spent a decade in the SEAL Teams and made some of my closest friendships there. It can be argued that my generation of Navy SEALs has suffered the greatest losses since the Vietnam War. This has affected me, and I struggle to explain it to people.  Put yourself in my shoes for a second. I’d ask you to think about six close friends and imagine them all dead and gone in the span of a few years. It’s a strange exercise to say the least but will give you some insight into what it’s like. We all know that close friendships take years to establish. These guys are irreplaceable, and I have a huge hole in my life that will not be filled anytime soon.

My only comfort is that each of them lived life on their own terms. These men, like most in the Spec Ops community, disregarded the naysayers, saw failure as a learning gift, and made a habit out of setting and achieving goals in their lives.  And these are lessons we can all learn from, and pass on to our own children.

I first met Chris when he was a “new guy” on probation at SEAL Team Three, he was one of the guys you instantly knew would go on to do good things in the Teams. A few years later when I was an instructor and course manager for the SEAL sniper program Chris and I got to know each other a little better. I later became his friend when we filmed a series on SOFREP.com, called Inside The Team Room. He agreed to do the show with me for free because he believed in what we were doing, which was to highlight life in the teams, the sacrifice of the American Warfighter, and their families.  It was during this time I came to appreciate Chris as a true professional and where he crossed the threshold of acquaintance to friendship.

We would often text each other to jokingly give one another a hard time about some media appearance. I probably gave him too much of a hard time for his recent appearance on NBC’s Stars Earn Stripes. He called me one night upset that he was getting a lot of heat from our community over the show, he went on to explain that he was in it to raise awareness for veteran causes, and not make money. I believed him, and respected him more for it.

I think Chris and I both shared the struggle of military to civilian transition. We both left the Teams on top of our game, both Chief Petty Officers with every career opportunity open to us. However, we chose family first, and left promising careers and had lot of people in the Teams scratching their heads at our decision. We spoke of this often in our short communications.

So many in the public have been quick to misjudge my friend.  Chris took no pleasure in taking lives as a trained sniper, and he doesn’t deserve the disrespectful press or the vein opining of political figures like Ron Paul. He did what his country asked of him, and did it well. His family also sacrificed greatly, and deserved a moment of dignity in his death. Most acknowledged this but a few also exposed their true nature.