This blog was written by our FIFTH SkillBridge Intern, Nate Swann. He’s supporting our Partner Relations Team.


You know that thing that you used to be able to do so well? You know, that thing that made you who you “were;” that provided a life of completeness and substance? That thing that provided you joy, a sense of purpose, and maybe even gave you an extra ego boost to be apart of? 

This is the thing you’ve given up countless amounts of blood, sweat, tears to be a part of; maybe lost your marriage or your relationship with “the outside world;” maybe even made you question your spiritual beliefs or maybe just made you question your life choices.

You know…that THING that has defined the greatest part of your life over these last many years…

Yeah, uh… you can’t do that anymore.

The Plunge into Separation

I know, I know, you want to…but you don’t get to decide to stay or go anymore. It doesn’t matter how much you have invested into this thing, and it doesn’t matter how much you’ve been invested in. You see, you are slowing the system down because you are apart of it, and the machine needs to get a crucial “hardware upgrade.” This is where you get moved out and the next one in line gets to move in.

Now sure, it might hurt to continue to do so (physically, mentally, or emotionally), but everyone hurts when they get older, right? Sure, I’ve sacrificed like everyone else has; but what makes me less capable than my peers? Why has this happened to me? What am I going to do now? Who am I, if I can’t be an Operator… 

You might know this is for your own good, but it does not make it any less hard that you are going to have to redefine who you are; as you’ve spent the last many years defining yourself by “what you did/are” versus “who you were.” This story isn’t just a story; and events like this happen all the time. Unfortunately, only a few stories like this get shared. In this blog, I hope to share my story with you on what a “non-traditional” transition might look like.

Many of us in the SOF community will find ourselves waking up in the morning hurting worse that we did the night before, but we go on.  We go on because we know, deep down inside, our nation needs us to do so. That the only way the free people of the world retain the gifts that freedom bestows, is because men and women like us are willing to do the world’s “dirty work” in the shadows. It’s a hard life. Not only is it hard to live in, it’s hard to be loved in. Justice’s eye might be blind, but the weights on the scales don’t weigh any less, just because you can’t see them.

Ready for my Journey

My name is Nate Swann, and I’m the newest addition to the Global SOF Foundation team. In this series, I’m going to share with you my struggles, trials, tribulations, and most importantly; the learning and healing I have done going through the transition process out of a military life into a civilian one.

I will talk about the medical retirement process I am going through, discussion with the VA (while on Active Duty), areas of focus for anyone transitioning (and what a good transition timeline of activities might look like). 

During this process, I have learned much; and the best way I can help the community at large today, is by sharing my experiences in a way that might help others going through a similar process. I don’t believe you can ever truly “be ready” to transition out of the military. The “indoctrination process” is too good. If you have bought into any of it at all, to just walk away without feeling anything tugging at your heartstrings, would be nearly impossible.

I know in my current situation that I am nervous for what the future holds, but as I continue to learn, just like planning for any operation: if you apply the right planning process, gather the right tools, build the right team, and develop your own skills; you can and will be successful. Come along with me on my journey, and I will help show you how to build a successful transition; so that you can define and describe your own state of success!

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