This Navy Seal "Shooter" Nonsense: Much Ado Something?
LET ME SAY THIS FIRST:
The Esquire article was a well-written disaster that missed on the opportunity to explore so many key points.
Navy SEALs are brave dudes. I have some good friends who are SEALs--they are all about 1000 times tougher than I will ever be. And they all make incredible sacrifices at every level that I couldn't ever make. The subject of the article was no exception.
The military is full of courageous brave men and women.
I flew search and rescue helos for the first part of my career and make no assertions or claims as to my own bravery. As I've written about before here, six weeks of Leatherneck in Quantico before my senior year of college were more than enough to tell me that I could never hack it as a Marine (these men and women are also about 999 times tougher than me).
The best way to address the myriad issues surrounding this controversy may be to break this down into the micro and macro level. There may been failures in the system but I would want to start at the Shooter's unit (i.e. the micro level).
Because this story isn't really about real or perceived shortfalls within the VA!
It's more likely about possible shortfalls in the military to civilian transition process.
It's about the capacity of the military to transfer a battlefield ethos centered on 'taking care of your troops' to the civilian transition process. It is imperative that leaders regularly counsel and mentor the troops under them--whether they are lifers or they are getting out.
At the macro level, there's a rabbit role that stems from all of this as to whether we are retaining the right people in our military today. There's been much written about it but not much put forth that can be quantified--to this I would add that think there's an appropriate verse from 1 Corinthians that would be applicable here:
"If I speak in the tongues of men or angels but have not STATISTICS I am only a noisy gong or clanging cymbal."
I am not convinced the military is losing its best and brightest until I see data that transcends the anecdotal.
Military evaluation system