SFC Tyler Grey (Army Special Operations, OIF, OEF Veteran)

How do I explain the term "Tier 1 Operator?"  Well, in the regular grunt units these men are seen as titan-like ghosts.  They're spoken of only in a whisper, like the veritable monster under the bed, a boogeyman of sorts.  Only that monster is on your side this time and that beast is after the worst of the worst.  This special operations unit is officially under the Department of the Army and acts in accordance with JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command).  They are the best of the best.  Tyler Grey was a part of that unit, one of the most dangerous men in the world, when his universe was rocked forever.  Although they are ghosts to us, they still bleed and Tyler did bleed that night in Sadr City.  The dangers of Sadr City were well documented and everyone knew it was one of the most dangerous spots in the world.  Let me just put it this way.  We had a ceasefire agreement with a terrorist organization and never could take full operational control over it.  That's how dangerous it was.  However, special operations units routinely went on raids in this space looking for the top-tier bad guys.      

The dark is your friend.  You know your equipment like the back of your hand and you're doing the most satisfying job in the world.  You're taking down the worst of the worst.  No need for words in this world because you're so good at your craft that your body movement is enough to get your teammates to understand the next move.  Your moves are so synchronized that it's like the ticking of an expertly-made, Swiss timepiece.  You are a part of a machine, a machine that adapts to every movement of the enemy with startling firepower and force.  Still, things go wrong in this world and some of them terribly wrong.  Special operations units are also the best operating in this world of chaos.  "Adapt and overcome" being their lifeblood.  Mental resilience is the base of everything they do.  That night Tyler would learn a lot about himself, and his own mental resilience.  Sergeant Grey was moving through the dark with the baddest men on the planet, in the most dangerous place on the planet when that explosion propelled him into a space he'd never before been.  A space where he'd never before been and had to find new purpose.  A space that forced him out of the Army's most elite unit.  That's enough from my end though.  Here's Tyler.    

Can you talk about what occurred on that day leading up to your injury?  

TG: Yeah, so without getting into operational details I'll say that when things go wrong, it's never usually one big thing.  So I do a lot of emergency planning for corporations and I always say, "Are you prepared for any emergency?"  They usually reply, "Yes, we're prepared for tornados, earthquakes, mudslides..." and I say, "Guess what?  You're not prepared for an emergency.  Those aren't emergencies.  An emergency is something you're not fucking prepared for.  That's a real emergency.  Something you can't possibly plan on happening."  Whenever something big happens, you always mitigate the obvious risks.  It's the little things that all coming together, like dominos falling in succession that leads to a catastrophic event.  The night that I was injured it was a bunch of little things that, on their own, wouldn't really be a big deal.  All of these together though led to a catastrophically large event for me.  Obviously, I've looked back at this moment hundreds of times and identified all the small things that just happened to be a little different than on our other missions.  As far as the moment that the explosion happened, I remember it like it was yesterday.  I never lost consciousness at any point.  

I remember everything.  I remember exactly what it felt like.  The explosion blew off my NODs (night vision goggles), my Oakleys, my helmet, and my gun was destroyed.  I felt like my arm got blown off and that was actually the 8-10 inches of my ulnar nerve that blew out.  When you lose that nerve, the feeling is like it's not there so I thought that my arm was gone.  I remember thinking about that scene in Saving Private Ryan where he was looking around for his arm.  I thought I needed to find my arm so I was looking for it, and then I stood up.  It was night of course so I couldn't see anything.  There was a back patio light on that house so I walked outside and my arm was there.  From the wrist up to the elbow, it was all hamburger meet though.  It also blew out chunks of my bone, enough to where my arm was hanging on by skin.  I looked at it one time, and thought I was going to lose it for sure.  There was a courtyard in the back of the house, and I sat against the wall where I pulled out my tourniquet.  I started to give myself medical attention, but I had a heavy arterial bleed.  I remember thinking, "Okay, you're going to lose your arm Tyler but you better handle this arterial bleed or you're going to fucking die and that would be stupid."  I remember thinking that clear as day.  

I also remember thinking that I was going to lose my right arm, and I had this image of a Vietnam veteran with no arm.  I thought about that being me now and I was kind of thinking, "I'm okay with no arm, but I'm definitely not okay with dying like this so I should probably fix this."  A teammate got to me pretty quickly despite the fact there was fighting going on in the house.  Everyone practices putting on a tourniquet when you can't use one arm, but it's a lot different when you actually have to do it and your arm is hanging on by a thread.  I was struggling.  They put on the tourniquet and hit me with some morphine which honestly didn't make me feel better.  Then I remember being evac'd to the hospital and I remember going into surgery.  The surgeon told me he was going to remove my arm.  I'd had a good shot of demorol so I was like, "Whatever dude.  I don't really care."  The next morning I woke up and my arm was there.  The funny thing about it all is that I have no idea who those doctors were, because no medical records are generated in Baghdad where I was treated.  They had such a profound effect on my life, and I have no idea who they were.  There was a several year process of surgery, rehab, surgery, rehab, and finally I got to a place where I was supposed to have two more surgeries and I just told them, "Nah, I don't want to do another surgery.  I've had enough."           

What was it like to come back from that injury mentally and physically?  

TG: It's really ultimately unexplainable and it's such a personal journey that I always say that I would, in a perfect world, have the lessons from injury but still be able to use my arm with full function.  I wouldn't change anything from the injury because it's made me who I am and I've learned so much about myself, that I would've never known any other way.  I can honestly say that this injury took me to rock bottom and there are things that I learned at rock bottom that you can't learn any other place.  Nobody wants to go to that place, but there are things in that space that you learn that are amazing.  That injury led to relationship problems, I lost the greatest job in the world due to that injury, and all these different things happened and I'll be quite honest when I say it absolutely broke me.  So I think the fundamental lesson I learned was that when you're broken you're either going to allow yourself to remain broken, or you're going to fix it.  If you're going to fix it you have to figure out how.  I figured out, through that, kind of the fundamental process of fixing yourself is no different than the process of fixing anything.  You've got to identify the problem then figure out the rest.  There's a process and I learned through myself what that process was.  

The documentary I was a part of (That Which I Love Destroys Me) showed that personal journey but the concepts are universal and apply to us all.  My journey isn't your journey but I can tell you what I did and there are lessons for everyone that apply.  So there are different things everyone goes through but we are all people at the end of the day, and we all have similarities and our brains process things similarly.  The problem with mental issues today is that we treat them as mental issues, and that is a half-solution.  What I mean by that is when I really started looking at and understanding my own state of mind I started saying things to myself like, "This isn't normal for you.  This isn't how you'd normally handle a problem.  Why is this a problem?"  So I did those video diaries you see in the documentary.  What I learned through that period was the problem with calling something mental is you lose the reality that your mental makeup is a part of the physical machine.  Your brain is a part of your body and is a neuro-chemical machine.  So those unnatural thoughts you have after trauma can possibly be something wrong with brain chemistry.  Maybe it's a hormonal issue.  I did blood testing and all these things to figure out why my brain was working differently than it was before the incident.  Now they're starting to do that kind of testing pretty commonly.  How many NFL players are having these concussions then deciding to commit suicide?  There's a link between these head injuries and suicidal thought patterns.  It's because the concussions are altering your brain chemistry.  Once I identified those problems, I started attacking it as a dual issue and that's really what helped.  I had to stop looking at things at a ground level and really start taking it all in from 35,000 feet up.  


How many combat tours did you do?

TG: I only did three tours because I obviously got hurt on that third one.  I did my first trip to Afghanistan with Ranger Battalion and while I was there I figured out exactly what I wanted to do.  When I got back I did two tours with my Special Forces unit.  I made the mistake of medically retiring myself because they told me that I wasn't going to be able to go back to a team.  For about a year I was like, "Fuck you.  I know I can will through this and I'm going to be fine."  After about a year and a half of surgeries I realized there's some things you just can't will.  When your body is structurally altered will can only overcome that to a degree, meaning I learned that I couldn't go back to a team or maybe I could and it would take me a solid five years of healing up.  Could I be on a team now?  Not a fucking doubt in my mind.  But, that would've taken me five years to get to.  

That's five years, and they were more than willing to find me a job so I could stay and make it back.  I said, "No," and the reason I said that was because I knew I couldn't be there for five years watching my buddies go out on deployments without me.  I'd fucking kill myself watching that.  I was also thinking, "The war's going to be over in five years."  Again, I was completely wrong but if you look back at that timeframe we never thought it would take this long.  I can't really fault my logic because it made sense at the time.  There's not a day that I don't regret getting out, but I realize the fundamental reality that at some point, "Enough is enough."  I have a buddy that's on combat deployment number 22 right now.  I tell him, "It'll never be enough bro.  There will always be another deployment to go on."  So I thought, "At what point is it enough?  At what point does the sheriff hang up his gun belt?"  So did I do everything in the military I wanted to do?  Not even remotely close, but every day I think about it I also have to say to myself, "That wasn't your path."  It's easy to regret but hard to accept.     

Tyler sits with his girlfriend Jaclyn Renee (Owner of Red's Pantry) and dog, Master Splinter. 

Why the Army?

TG: I wanted to go straight into Special Operations and I knew about it since I was seven years old.  I had a Green Beret poster on my wall so I knew exactly what I wanted to do from a very early age.  I went straight into the recruiter's office knowing exactly what I wanted to do.  I asked, "What contract can you give me where I'm guaranteed a shot at being Special Operations?"  I knew how you could get screwed in your contract before I went into the office, so I wanted to make sure that didn't happen.  At the time, the 18-Xray program didn't exist so they were like, "Well, we can get you a Ranger contract," and I was like, "Done.  I'm sold."  That being said, if there'd been an 18-XRay contract at the time I would've taken that.  I'm very happy thought that I started off in Ranger Battalion because I think it's a great place to start off.  You start off at the bottom in battalion as a private, so you get treated like shit and you really have to learn from the bottom up.  That's a great quality of Ranger Battalion and I like that you start off as shit, because it teaches you a lot about yourself.  I think to be a leader you need to understand what it's like to be led.  

How old were you when you joined?  

TG: I signed up when I was 19 and actually 20 when I joined.  I grew up in Bakersfield where you either go to the local junior college or you join the military.  Even though I wanted to join the military, I was kind of rebellious in high school so I resisted a little.  I was like, "Fuck you," because I didn't want to do what everyone else was doing.  So, I ended up moving out here to LA right after highschool.  That being said, it took me a year or so to realize that just because that was the path most took didn't mean I had to resist it.  I really did want to join the military so I ended up going that way.  I joined from out here, and part of me wishes I'd joined before I got out here and had that extra year.  Then, the other part of me realizes that it was nice to have a little age and maturity after highschool when I went in and joined.  I'd been out here and kind of seen another way of life, so I feel that readied me a little for the military life.  

Little did I know our paths were kind of laid in stone with September 11th on the horizon, but we didn't know that.  I think of what I wanted to do when I joined, and that all changed when September 11th happened.  Things that I wanted to do all kind of got accelerated because of the towers falling, and I didn't have that peace time extra space to train in.  Because I wanted to do so much, I kind of rushed everything that I wanted to do while I was in the military.  I stupidly thought (laughs) that the war was going to be over in two or three years.  Little did I know.  

Tyler trains with Richard Mes

Tyler trains with Kenpo instructor Richard Mesquita.  

Can you explain the difference between the Tier 1 unit you were a part of and a "regular" Special Operations Unit?  

TG: Without going into too much detail, I'll give you my opinion of what that unit exists for.  At that unit, you're fundamentally hired for your ability to think and to quickly assess a system or a structure; and rapidly figure out how to adapt to that system while manipulating it to your needs.  That is the most fundamental way to explain it.  I know that's not super sexy like, "You're hired to kill the baddest terrorists (laughs)."  People think that there are a bunch of really strong people at this unit but I would say the misconception is, yeah there are a lot of strong people there don't get me wrong, but mostly it's about being the smartest people who can really think outside the box and problem solve at the most complex level.  That, in my humble opinion, is why the people there are hired.  

How do you explain the brotherhood of Special Operations? 

TG: The difference between "regular military" and "special operations" is that they were created for a special mission.  They could've used the term "specific" and that would've been a little more accurate.  What they mean by that term "special" is that each unit within our community was created for a very specific purpose and task.  It existed at the time outside the capabilities of the regular military.  If you send in a unit of the 82nd Airborne you know that if it's a body you're attacking, you're getting a chainsaw.  They're going to destroy shit because that's what an infantry unit does in the Army.  They're designed to fucking destroy the enemy.  Where special operations comes in is that when you get to a very specific mission like counter-terror or hostage rescue, now you can't send in an infantry unit to do that.  That would be like sending in a chainsaw for surgery on a cancer patient to cut out the cancer.  The special operations units are like sending in a scalpel to cut out the cancer.  

The units are small, they have a much smaller signature, and is designed to be more precise.  The community gets a lot of sexiness in the way people talk about it because it's a bunch of commandos, but you don't send in these types of units to attack a formation of 100 tanks.  That would be when you use the chainsaw.  So when you're talking about special operations units you're talking about more specifically trained, precise operators.  The reason the brotherhood is so tight within Special Operations is that there is a lot less turnover.  You're deploying again and again with guys that you've trained with for years.  In the regular Army, you have guys coming in and going out constantly; whereas in a special operations unit you could have nobody come in or go out for years.  What that allows, with the lack of turnover, is that you can get pretty damn good together with multiple years of train-up time together.  You're not having to constantly break in the new guy.        

Can you explain the complications of fighting terrorism?  

TG: I'll boil the complications of fighting terror down to what I consider is the problem at the foundation.  It's very hard to fight the enemy that has no rules, with rules.  If we are playing chess and you have no rules but I do, I could be a thousand times better player than you but I promise you I will lose.  That's the problem.  Simple as that.  Attacking civilians, using human shields, not at all worried about collateral.  It's very hard to stop an enemy that, quite honestly, doesn't give a fuck.   

Talk about the most memorable time for you where you felt like you were really making a difference.  

TG: First of all, I was so lucky to be a part of a unit that was making (and still is) a difference at the highest fucking level.  People don't hear about it but one day it'll come into the public eye.  The amount of work that my unit was and is getting done is going to blow people's minds.  That was part of the major pain I suffered with.  I had such a feeling of accomplishment, so to lose that was really tough.  Something I remember very specifically was when one of our main missions was to go after VBIED (Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device) makers in Baghdad.  We got so many of them that we seriously reduced the amount of VBIEDs in Baghdad at that time.  We went straight after the dudes making these things and got a lot of them.  I remember we got one guy and about eight suicide bombers under him.  We got these guys right after they'd shot their video and were getting ready to go out on their mission and blow themselves up.  I just remember having the conversation with the interrogator and the VBIED maker, and just saying, "I get you wanting to kill Americans.  I'm in your country and you see me as an invader so I understand you wanting to kill me.  If you were in my country I'd want you dead.  Granted we are trying to help your country, but let's look past that.  Your perception is that I'm not helping so that's your view.  But blowing up your own people?  That's where I can promise you if you were in my country, I would not be blowing up my own people to fucking kill you."  I remember feeling so proud of that time.    

What about the duality of being a trigger puller and at the same time being there to help the indigenous people?

TG: It's very complicated.  That's a truly complicated subject.  I think as a special operations member I always thought of rule one in medicine, "Do no harm."  I always thought about that when I was overseas.  I tried to always live by that when I could.  This meant that yes, I would bring down full wrath when it came to the bad guys but if there were guys that obviously weren't I didn't want to turn these people into bad guys.  That's easier said than done in combat.  And there were times in combat when I trusted someone over there and ended up getting screwed.  It's so complicated but at the end of the day, it's very easy to become jaded and make everyone evil overseas.  

But, in my opinion in the special operations world, you have to fight that urge to think badly of everyone; and you have to think very heavily about every decision.  You can't just decide for yourself that everyone is bad.  If you're in a conventional unit and you're being told to lay waste to some area, obviously you don't have to think quite as much about that.  With special operations, you're working constantly in close proximity to locals so you have to be more precise.  That's one of the greatest difficulties of an operator's job.  You have to go into everything with an open mind and not treat everyone like they're the same.  And it is very very easy to just think of everyone as bad over there.  I totally get that.  You have to fight that urge to think that way in special operations.  

If you could tell a civilian one thing about how to treat those that come back, what would you tell them?  

TG: It's very simple.  My motto with civilians is don't try to understand.  Just accept.  You're never going to understand what we did so just accept it.  It's okay to not understand.  

Tyler with (from left to right) Mike Dowling (Director of Talent and Community Outreach at We Are The Mighty), girlfriend Jaclyn Marsh ( Owner of Red's Pantry), and Mark Hyatt (SVP of Brand Partnerships at We Are the Mighty). 

Tyler with (from left to right) David Harden (Board of Directors, We Are the Mighty), Mike Dowling, David Gale (CEO and Co-Founder of We Are the Mighty) and Mark Harper (SVP Creative and Business Development, We Are the Mighty).

I know that obviously in special operations you basically join to get into combat, but was it at all hard leaving home for you?

TG: I mean for me it wasn't hard leaving home, but I wasn't leaving anyone behind.  I didn't leave a family or wife behind so I liked deploying.  There are times over there where you get a little homesick or you get tired of the food or just worn out, but that's normal stuff.  For me, I said I was never going to have kids while I was in the military because I just couldn't imagine leaving them behind.  I was lucky when I was home because I played video games for fun, and when I was deployed and not doing anything I played video games (laughs).  So life was pretty easy for me.  I can't imagine how much more difficult it is for someone with a family.  To this day, I can't even fathom that in the least.  I loved the job I was doing over there.  Prior to September 11 I was scrimmaging all the time (training) so after 9/11 it's like I was playing in the big game.  I had a lot of fun overseas.  Even getting blown up, yeah that sucked, but it was kind of fun being in that kind of danger.  

What was the hardest part about coming back home?  

TG: The loss of the job.  At a certain level of special operations, you don't view it as a job.  It's not a job and it's not a lifestyle.  It's more fundamental than that.  It's who you are.  What I did was who I was.  There was no separation between me as a person and the job.  I would argue that it's that way for all my guys still there.  They aren't doing that job because it's a job they want to do.  They're doing it because it's who they fundamentally are.  I don't think you really get to that level of special operations without it being who you are.  My point that I'm making is when you lose that job, you also lose yourself and that was really, really hard.  It took a long time to figure out who I was again because I was no longer myself.  

What was that whole process like of re-discovering yourself and becoming something completely new?

TG: So when you're in the unit I was in, every deployment is your heroin, your fix.  And that's why guys never leave, because they need their fix by deploying.  So when I left the unit, I realized I didn't have my heroine anymore.  What I discovered over time was that in order to gain a new identity, I simply had to trick myself.  What I mean is telling myself, "I may not be doing the job anymore but I can still go shooting, I can still workout, I can still do martial arts.  It's why I did what you saw me do today.  That routine is my methodone.  It's not quite my heroin but it makes me feel like I'm training for something.  And what I'm training for is my life.  That's what I mentioned in the documentary.  Life is going to definitely fight you in many ways.  I train to fight back against whatever comes at me.  I always stay ready.  The "what" part of life isn't what really matters.  I train to be ready for anything.  I need to make sure to keep that edge.  So every day I pull out the wet stone and work on keeping the sword sharp.  



What are you doing now in your civilian life that's helped you?

TG: I've worked in the entertainment industry i.e. games, movies, television for awhile now.  People kind of ask, "Why that?"  It seems like a strange fix for a guy like myself.  My reason is two-fold.  I've always liked movies and specifically perception is reality.  Movies about the military are going to be made, whether we like it or not.  So you either have someone on the ground making sure that Hollywood gets it right, or you get badly done military productions.  It's trying to get Hollywood to understand the difference between their perception of the military and what it really is.  I like that work.  I do several different types of training, and I have a show now where I'm taking people and getting them ready for life.  In my daily therapy for veterans, I ask "What have you done for yourself lately?"  Every day I like to try to do something that makes me happy and empowers other veterans at the same time.  If I can keep that going every day, then I'm pushing myself forward to where I want to be.  I think the problem nowadays is life is becoming more and more complicated.  

I think the way to combat that is we just need to start simplifying that more and more in our minds.  And that goes back to the 22 pushup thing.  Is it really helping somebody?  I don't really think so.  You'd be better off calling somebody up and asking them how their day is.  It's not about posting on social media.  It's about reaching out and helping someone.  People think they're helping through a disconnecting way but it's not helping.  You need to reach out individually to that veteran.  Through the documentary I learned that the best way to help someone out is to open up with your experiences, and through that, the person you're opening up to will probably open up about themselves.  You can't open up through social media.  That's not the medium to do it with.  That's what I love about movies.  When you watch a film, you can see that person open up or go through their own issues.  Someone watching that can then identify with that and then work towards change.  So I'm trying to make projects where people can be helped through that medium of entertainment.  It's like playing football and doing cardio.  Yeah you're getting your cardio in, but you're doing it in a way that's not making you think about the cardio aspect of it (laughs).  They think they're relaxing and watching a movie but in reality you're helping them identify with something.  I would argue that anyone's favorite movies are all movies that mean something for special reasons.  You identify with that character the most.  So what am I doing in Hollywood?  Trying to make things where someone can look at that character and say, "Yeah that's me.  I understand that."  That's my ultimate goal.  

Who lifts you up on your bad days?  Who's your support team?

TG: I'm notoriously bad for opening up when I'm struggling.  That's not a good thing.  It's actually a really bad thing and something I'll probably have to work on my entire life.  That's the other problem I see in the military.  The whole thing we get indoctrinated into from a very early point in basic training, is that you never ask for help.  You help your team and never ask anything back.  That's how we are built to perform.  The problem is when you get out it actually reverses.  Now you need to ask for help and you need a support base.  It's a different dynamic but everyone in the Army is built with this mentality where you say, "No, I'm good but what do you need?"  So now you have all these people that are so ready to ask their buddies if they need help but they have a hard time opening up and asking for help themselves.  Everyone is turning that help down so now we are stuck in this dynamic where we are all like, "Nah, I'm good but are you good?"  That's how we were conditioned.  Then a guy commits suicide and everyone in our community is like, "But he said he was fine!"  That's the problem.  

We are conditioned to give help and not ask for it.  Now granted I was that way before the military even, but that training instilled it even more so for me.  So in the life sense, obviously my girlfriend Jaclyn helps out a ton.  In the military sense, I have such an awesome support group of military friends.  Having friends that get you and understand you is the key.  If you get me and I don't have to say anything, then I don't really need to tell you my problems.  You just get it.  I could just say something like, "Do you just want to go get breakfast?"  They don't really need to hear about my problems.  Just being there for me is what helps.  I think the major problem is guys get out and fail to surround themselves with the people that get them.  Obviously, civilians really can't get you.  That's not their fault.  It's just the nature of them having never been where we have.  On the other side of that, you don't want to JUST surround yourself with other veterans because then you're just that angry veteran that surrounds yourself with other angry veterans (laughs).  

We all know those people too.  If there's one thing I have is that it's a great group of friends.  They're such great people.  Get a support system of people that understand you.  It's not going to happen without work.  I think that's the other misconception that people have.  They think they're going to get out and just be surrounded with this vast network.  No, it takes time to find the right people.  It's taken me years to find the right group.  There's a lot of people that I thought were friends and they ended up not being friends.  That's life.  It takes time to find your network.  The mistake made is that you think the hard work is over when you get out, and the reality is the hard work just started.  It's going to get harder and what are you going to do?  Quit?  You can't do that.  I think it's Bruce Lee's quote that goes, "Don't hope for an easy life.  Hope for the strength to endure a harder one."

We talked about that number 22 a day with veteran suicide.  I think we can both agree we are tired of the word, "Awareness."  How do we make a change?  

TG: The short answer would be that it's a very complex question and the answers are so complex.  I could talk for hours on things that need to be improved.  I think the problem is everyone overcomplicates everything.  The reason for high rates of veteran suicides is complicated.  It doesn't mean the solution needs to be.  I think the solution is simple.  Even if it's not simple for everyone, the solution is simple for many.  The other thing is that you're not going to stop every veteran suicide.  Just like you're not going to stop suicide anywhere else no matter what the fuck you do.  It's not possible.  Again, when people talk about a lot of things like this whole 22 to 0 campaign.  Like that would be great to stop all suicides in our community, but that's not reality.  

I would love it to be but I don't live in that fantasy world.  That's going to happen no matter what.  So we need to focus on getting that number down.  What everyone can do is to reach out to a veteran!  It's so simple.  Reach out and ask if a veteran needs help.  You and I can do that right now!  Some civilian could be reading this right now, and they know a veteran they can reach out to.  Do it.  Reach out to them right now and ask how they are doing.  Call them up, not text, not facebook.  Fucking call them up and ask them how they are.  It's so simple.  You know why people are doing this 22 pushup campaign?  Because it's easy.  Does it help?  I don't think so.  I think it puts out awareness but awareness doesn't change a damn thing.  A person seeing someone doing 22 pushups doesn't say, "O I'm not going to kill myself because that person did 22 pushups today."  They don't give a fuck.  What they need is someone that means something to them calling them up and asking how the fuck they're doing.  

Reach out and that shows you'll give a shit.  Nobody wants to do the hard work of getting emotionally involved with someone.  Doing 22 pushups literally gets your hands dirty, but doesn't get your hands dirty in the way you need them to be.  Don't self-indulge by showing what you can do with pushups on social media.  Call someone up and ask how they are.    You need to figuratively get your hands dirty and get in there ask if someone needs help.  How many times do you hear about someone committing suicide and nobody knew they had a problem?  All the time.  So that's my point.  You never know who's fucking having problems so call someone up and ask them if they're okay regardless of how you think they're doing.  I'm not a doctor or psychologist or even an authority figure on veteran suicide, but what I do know is suicide is most likely the last resort for everyone that goes there.  So if you give them even some kind of a "How are you doing?" you really could save a life.  So it comes down to if we really want to have an impact on this number, we're actually going to have to ask how people are doing.  I know that seems fucking crazy (laughs) but it's going to take actual work, not just 22 pushups.  I'm just a very realistic person and I try to stay out of fantasy land.               

Los Angeles 

The world can be a very dangerous place.  When you meet men like Tyler you feel a lot more confident in the future prospects of this nation.  Although he'd never describe himself as elite, he's just that.  I sat with him as I've sat with many before in the interview setting and was blown away by his thought process.  His introspection and understanding of the dynamics of combat were on another level.  It's safe to say there's a definite reason men like him are chosen for the unit.  There's something you learn in the military very early on, and that's never to judge a book by its cover.  Tyler isn't 6'6" 260 lbs, but he's still physically imposing.  I understand his capabilities in real world scenarios are absolutely off the charts and that's a wonderful thing to know as an American.  Men like Tyler Grey quite frankly make me feel safer as a citizen.  I highly recommend the documentary, "That Which I Love Destroys Me."  In it, you'll see his struggle with his own identity and finding himself.  The film is one that leaves you with a better understanding of what challenges operators face when they exit the world they know best.  I want to thank Tyler for spending his day with me and giving me such rare insight into the viewpoint of a Special Forces Operator.      






Tim K