“Unflinching: The Making of a Canadian Sniper” is the autobiography of Jody Mitic, who lost the lower half of both legs to a land mine in Afghanistan in 2007. He rose to fame in Canada when he and his brother raced their way to second place on “The Amazing Race, Canada” in 2013. In June 2014, he officially retired from the Canadian Armed Forces, but like many of us, he strongly felt the desire to continue to serve his country. He ran for city councilor in Ottawa, winning the position by a wide margin in October, 2014 (Wikipedia, 2015).

In many ways, Jody is the embodiment of the modern veteran. He served his country proudly and has paid a steep price for that service, but make no mistake, Jody is no victim. He has become a leader and an inspiration for modern veterans, demonstrating that the end of their time in the service does not mean the end of service to your country or the brothers and sisters you served with.

Jody’s story isn’t one of the hero destined for greatness. He almost didn’t make it. He started out in the reserves in 1994 before making the plunge into full-time in 1997. After a direct transfer into the Regular Force (active duty), he showed up at his battalion ready—or so he thought. Dropped into First Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment (1RCR) in the middle of their training for deployment to Bosnia, he had to hit the ground sprinting. It didn’t pan out very well, and he was sent back to complete battle school for a second time.

As would be expected, this initial failure didn’t sit well with him. He had a poor attitude and made some bad decisions. One night, out of misplaced loyalty to a fellow recruit, he accompanied him as he attempted to buy cocaine. They were both detained, although Jody was quickly released without charges. It would haunt him for years as his career hung in the balance; there was a concerted effort to boot him from the forces.

But a funny thing happened along the way: He realized he wanted to stay. Not just stay and finish his contract, scraping the bottom the same way he had so far, but to reach his full potential. This didn’t happen in a vacuum, though; his regimental sergeant major, a grizzled old vet, gave him a nudge. He saw a spark in Jody. He saw potential and told him so. Despite all the negative reviews he had heard up to this point, a kind word was all he needed, and he returned to battle school for a third time with a new attitude and determination to finally fulfill that potential.

From there, it’s more or less the standard arc. Jody graduated as top candidate and top shot. He deployed to Kosovo in 2000, returned, and set his sights on becoming a sniper. His first tour in Afghanistan saw him in Kabul in 2003 as a driver and bodyguard, leading convoys through the city. It wasn’t exactly action packed, but it was enough to get his feet wet, and he would return as a sniper detachment commander in 2006.

Things had changed dramatically since 2003; the Taliban was in the midst of its resurgence and was making a play for taking control of Kandahar. The 1RCR Battle Group, supported by elements of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and 3rd Special Forces Group (3rd SFG), would push back, launching Operation Medusa in August 2006. The largest allied offensive to date, it was a bloody battle that would eventually claim the lives of 12 Canadian soldiers (Wikipedia, 2016).

Afterward, Jody became an integral part of an information, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) unit and was deployed to Sperwan Ghar, the mountain dominating the Panjwaii Valley that Op Medusa had wrested from the control of the Taliban. Here he bonded with the men of 3rd SFG frequently providing support and overwatch, lobbying to be allowed to provide more. Integrating was the most natural thing in the world; they understood each other once they had their different terminology sorted out. “It was like we had been [together] our whole careers” (Mitic, 2016).