Family Support Program Manager
Family Services, Navy Special Warfare Command
Iwas scuba certified at age 13. As a kid, l lived one house up from the
Caloosahatchee River [on Florida’s Gulf Coast]. All of us kids were driving boats before we drove cars.
I really didn’t have anyone in my family who served in the military. My
father was a physician and my mother was a nurse turned school teacher.
I was a pre-med student in college, and I was bored. My friend had a poster
of a guy jumping out of an airplane, a scuba diver planting a mine and a
guy shooting a weapon. I also saw the original Navy frogmen rescue the
astronauts in the water in the Apollo space capsule. That was the coolest
thing for me growing up.
I went to several military recruiters, but I ended up at the Navy
recruiter’s office in 1984. The guy had a beard and he was a little overweight. It was quarter to five and he said he was closed. I insisted, and told
him there was still 15 minutes left. I saw the poster again and told him, “I
want to do that.”
“Forget it,” he said. “That’s the toughest training in the U.S. military.”
That just made me want it more. Two weeks later, I was in boot camp at
Great Lakes. I then went to Field Medical Service School at Camp Pendleton
and to Basic Underwater Demolition School (BUDS). Jump school was next
and then I joined up with SEAL Team 4 and deployed to Panama. It was a
great tour. SEAL Team 4 is where I did a lot of growing up in the Navy.
There’s nothing better than peer-to-peer support and that’s what you get
from the officers and the junior guys when you come into the SEAL teams.
Back then, the older guys were a little more gruff; you know, old Navy, but
still family. Those were the days of SEAL Team 2 and Master Chief Rudy
Boesch, a “Bullfrog” and a very famous SEAL. He served about 45 years in
After I left SEAL Team 4, I did a tour as a BUDS instructor and that was
very rewarding because you see the faces. Guys you trained are now commanding officers, executive officers and master chiefs. I love coaching. I
love being with the guys. You never want to leave the teams. I would’ve
served 30 years in the Navy, but with my family retirement was the decision I needed to make. Right now, every SEAL is operating at a higher-than-normal tempo, with six months deployed and 18 months between
Working at Navy Special Warfare Command has cushioned the landing
after retirement. I miss the day-to-day interaction at the tactical level, but
I get to see and work with SEALs every day. Now I am focused on making
sure the SEALs have resources to work through the family issues.
Before I retired, I helped create the Combat Stress Program, which
involves some classes in Iraq on reintegration and post-traumatic stress for
SEALs about to return home. The million-dollar question we are working on
now is, “How do we measure family stress levels and how they are coping
with higher than normal operational tempos?” We want to be in the prevention business, not intervention. If we can improve SEALs’ relationships or
lives — the families and the operators — then we’re succeeding. ■
“The million-dollar ques-
tion we are working on
now is, ‘How do we
measure family stress
levels and how they are
coping with higher than
normal operational tem-
pos?’ We want to be in
the prevention busi-