I met someone recently who spent twenty years in SOF and was more or less kicked out. He was an asset than and still is today. He’s just not normal.

I was in for eight years of active duty, total. No that’s not as long as some. But longer than most. However, in SF and SOF, generally, these are careerists and eight years isn’t long enough, not at all. I’m just teetering on the cusp of seniority and left the Green Berets. I may re-emerge as a reservist but unless a larger war breaks out I might not see time on active duty again. It was so hard transitioning it would be equally frustrating going back.

The other day I met an ex-Green Beret who somehow managed to become a sort of technologist, specifically computer science, at SOCOM. He eventually retired, happily. He now questions why he stayed in for so long in the first place. But, he does retirement pay – which is very nice folks. Because in today’s marketplace you’re retirement is a blessing while you start your second career, which you will. He harbored mixed feelings with his final years in SOF.

There’s a common cultural problem in SOF to constantly henpeck one another. This guy told me that he didn’t realize he might be intelligent until many years later when he began to code and design software. Now, he’s a software engineer and a CTO of a software engineering and big data firm that’s doing some very interesting things. Those skills are still used for national security as well as our economy in the private sector. Despite his accomplishments, I’m sure there are any who refer to him as a “$h*tbag”.

For this part of the blog – I wanted to say that you don’t have to serve forever. It all depends on what you want from life. The operator I mentioned had a unique career within SOF and continued to do so after. Even though, his uniqueness and intellect made him a pariah. He still volunteered and gave 20 years of his life something greater than himself. That being said, enter and leave the military for your own reasons – not someone else or what the group think at your unit believes, it’s your life.

Image courtesy of DoD

This article was originally published on SpecialOperations.com