His bio said, “11B Iraq vet making 2019 the Year of GORUCK. 12 months, 12 Events. Sharing my training, progress, and lessons learned, as well as writing AARs. Sua Sponte”
I was intrigued.
After a few weeks of tweets, I was impressed and wanted to know more of his story. What was driving this guy? Why 12 events in 12 months? I wanted to know more.
So, I asked Mike if he would write a piece about why he’s doing an event every month this year. His reply is below. It is pretty great and hopefully he’ll write more for us as his journey continues. I suspect it will be a journey worth following (which you can do on Twitter).
2019 Jan 11 Mike V.
It’s Monday morning. I’m standing at the Keurig.
A co-worker limps through the break room, visibly leaner than Friday afternoon.
I knew Matt to be a CrossFit guy and a Home Gym fanatic. He was in very respectable shape. Maybe there was a regional competition this weekend?
“Matt. Bro, what happened? You okay?”
“I do these things…have you ever heard of GORUCK? It’s like Special Forces training, but only for like an afternoon or maybe a day or whatever.”
I knew immediately that I needed this in my life.
When I left the Infantry, everyday stuff is easy by comparison. Cumulatively it’s extremely difficult, which is why so many guys take permanent steps to resolve a temporary crisis. But no one makes you sleep in a puddle, or walk until you’re bleeding through your boots, or put someone in a bag and load them onto a helicopter. So aside from living, I hadn’t done anything hard – really hard – in years.
I mean, how hard could it be? I mean, I’m retired Infantry. While Matt was taking Engineering classes, I was in Ramadi.
Turns out it’s pretty fucking hard.
When I attended my first event in March of 2017, I had a BMI of 43. I had given myself diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. The VA has me on every antipsychotic, SSRI, and benzodiazepine in the formulary. The last walk I took was to the mailbox.
“Look at these dicks in their RWB shirts and their gloves and their fancy footwear,” I said silently as I smoked before the event.
Despite joining a gym and selecting an event nine months away, it became immediately obvious that I was the dick. I was woefully unprepared physically and mentally for what Shredder and Cleve had in store, and within an hour I was back in my car.
A couple hours after that, I was in the Emergency Room.
My lack of proper preparation resulted in poor form, which resulted in scrapes and cuts, which resulted in infections.
I spent half a year licking my wounds, resenting the RWB dicks who probably didn’t fail, feeling extra sorry for myself.
100 percent pass rate my ass, I would say.
Towards the end of that summer, we moved, and I got a wake-up call from Malory Archer of all people.
“You have been given the opportunity of a lifetime. A new job, a new city where nobody knows you, which means you can reinvent yourself. You can be anyone you want. So why on Earth would you keep being you?”
I dug around the moving boxes and found my assault pack, still with the bricks in it, still with the mud on it, crumpled and sad, smashed under a closetful of old coats, scarves, and gloves.
Maybe I had gone about it all wrong. Maybe instead of doing some dumbbell work and hopping on the elliptical isn’t good enough. Maybe you need to not be a liability. Maybe it’s more about the group than about your ego or some “civilians will never understand my culture” petulance.
So again I selected an event nine months away. Again I joined a gym. I found a barbell routine, a cardio routine, and a GORUCK training routine.
I bet on myself – investing in the recommended socks, shoes, bag, and plate. I meal prepped, I counted macros. The weight melted off. My doctor took me off my diabetes medication. One by one, the VA counselors rolled back my mental health diagnoses. My knees and back no longer ached by 9am.
Then June rolled around, and Jacob introduced himself. “I’m Jacob.” I was surprised to hear a British accent. Is that the end of his bio? “Are there any questions?”
Where were you, someone in the crowd asks. “I was in the Israeli Defense Force.” Yeah but where, they ask. “Palestine.”
It was clear the conversation was over, and while I’ve met Hall of Fame athletes, Surgeons, Generals, Cardinals, Senators, Vice Presidents, and CEOs, I have never wanted to impress anyone as much as I wanted to impress this man.
Sure enough, as the sun set Jacob bestowed the hallowed 2” x 3” Patch which will never be for sale.
I was addicted instantly. To the success. To the team of strangers. To the mutual suffering for ambiguous goals. To time with Cadre who might as well be Space Marines, so wide is the gulf separating their service from my own. To being able to walk into the house, proudly tell my family their sacrifice was not in vain, and that they had eaten pound after pound of salmon and chicken breast for a good cause.
A few months later I ran a half marathon. Then I did a 22-mile ruck for charity. But these were individual accomplishments, and soon the word “LIGHT” on Jacob’s patch began to irritate me. I had more in the tank that evening. Why did I only do a Light? 100% pass rate? That’s like being admitted to a public high school.
So I signed up for another event nine months away. It’s an HTL. 48+ hours, 70+ miles.
In preparation, I’ve signed up for 12 events in 2019, starting with February’s Battle of the Bulge event in South Carolina. For the rest of the year, every Saturday will be one of four things – a distance run, a distance ruck, a Rucking Challenge from RuckingChallenges.com, or a GORUCK event.
As the year progresses, so too will the difficulty and duration of my tasks, culminating in October’s HTL and November’s 22-mile march for Veteran Suicide Awareness.
As Secretary Mattis tells us, learning from your own mistakes is costly, while learning from someone else’s is far less expensive.