Warriors. Sacrifice. These are words which conjure up feelings of national pride and selflessness. Since an early age, I dreamed of following in my grandfathers footsteps and joining the military. However, I have also been interested in working in the medical field and helping people. Serving other people seems natural to me. That servant attitude balances out the fierce competitiveness coursing through my veins. I am trapped inside of a yin-yang: my desire to show compassion by helping others and my drive to be the absolute best I can be.
The military promised the best of both worlds, serving my country yet still fighting to be the alpha-dog.
Initially, I was interested in serving through the United States Marine Corps. The Marines fierce warrior spirit and pride are summed up in their core values: honor, courage, and commitment. However, I still felt that there was more that I could do. My grandfather served in the Navy. After his death, I learned that he served as a part of the first Navy Scouts and Raiders, the forerunners to todays Navy SEALs.
This drove me to learn more about the SEALs. The Navy SEALs represent the absolute elite of the U.S. Military. Their motto The Only Easy Day was Yesterday shows the commitment to demanding work. I immediately felt a connection to them. Compared to the Marine Corps, this was the next level.
The desire to be a SEAL turned into longing, and before much time had passed, I was soaking up books written by former SEALs and even had a workout book from a Navy SEAL. I was infatuated with them, memorizing their warrior creed and trying to work out every day. I was dead-set certain: This was my calling. Nevertheless, through it all, I still had a tickle in the back of my head yearning for the medical profession. I dug a little deeper and found a story from a Navy SEAL who was a medic in his platoon and after he left the military went to school and became a doctor. I felt like everything had clicked into place. Surely, this was the way I could bring peace to the warrior/healer conflict inside of me.
While looking at books on Navy SEALs at the local library, I came across a book written by a person who was an Airforce PJ. I had never heard of what a PJ was before. I decided to check out the book and read it. What I was about to read would change my life. The book painted a picture unlike that of anything I had seen. A special operations qualified warrior whose job was combat search and rescue, namely, to rescue fallen American soldiers from the battlefield. I had to learn more. Insatiable, I explored every avenue I could to learn more about them. The more I learned, the greater my appetite grew. I learned that PJ stood for Pararescue, and not only did they have the same qualifications as Navy SEALS, but every single one was nationally certified as a paramedic as well as a combat medic.
But it was not the jumping out of airplanes, the cool weapons, or even how elite the unit was, but rather their motto These things we do, that others may live which struck a chord in me. The determination that PJs will do whatever required to deny the enemy a victory and bring our warriors home to fight another day. This was my calling. That I am part of something bigger than myself. It is not me that matters, but how my actions affect others. Navy SEALs only perform direct action missions, that is, going out and hunting the enemy to bring them to justice. This was different. Pararescue did not just bridge the gap between the warrior/healer spirit inside me but rather defined what it meant to be a true warrior for me. Namely, to act so that others may live, no matter what the cost.