Editor’s Note: This article was generously contributed by Bill Crozier and discusses his preparedness journey and the assumptions of friends and family given his experience as a military veteran.
Like many of us, the idea of becoming a prepper came gradually.
Living in South Florida, hurricanes were always a thought no matter what we did. Even as a child, I can remember “helping” my Father build a new fence in the back yard and he would remark that the fence would not stand up to a Category 2 hurricane. Everything we did had a hurricane in the back of our minds.
Later, I joined the United States Army and prepping took on a different meaning. Obviously, staying in physical shape was a daily routine however; we were always ready to go at a moment’s notice. A “B” bag was packed should the need arise and my LBE (Load Bearing Equipment) was in a constant state of readiness.
After leaving the Military and settling down into an office job, wife, kids and the American dream, I eventually took notice of the things around me.
Violent crime was going up while normal security was going down. Then, the 2004 Hurricane season hit us. I was without power for a total of three months. Fuel was difficult to obtain and I discovered that you can only eat so much peanut butter and jelly before you start to hate food in general.
More than that however was how rapidly law and order broke down. The local neighbors did get together and shared the perishable foods on a BBQ grill and we all kind of hung out together outside (inside the homes were stifling because of the heat) and we took notice of strange vehicles slowly cruising the streets near us. The criminals were out before the winds fully died down. As a Veteran, I felt confident that I would be able to defend myself, my home, and my family with the training that I received from Uncle Sam. I had my AR and lots of ammunition. I had already surveyed the surrounding area and decided what made for good cover, concealment, and, if needed, a good shooting platform from the advantage of height.
Fortunately, I never had to put this into practice. Years later (well, a few years ago), I decided to get serious about prepping. As I stocked up on a few extra firearms and many thousands of rounds of ammunition, I felt good about protecting my family. I taught my wife and my son how to shoot, reload, and clear every firearm we have. I decided where the best and worst places were to defend my home. I was a Soldier. I was part of the best Military fighting force that the world has ever seen. I have been trained to do exactly what I was preparing to do.
And then it hit me. What am I going to do about food and water? Yes, I can stockpile both but, that will eventually run out.
I decided to take an honest assessment of my Military background and, what I discovered scared me a little bit.
In the Army, I was part of a team. A LARGE team complete with food and water support, medics, artillery, air support, and about 1,000 other guys fighting along with me. In my house, I have none of that. If I get hungry, I cannot simply go to the mess tent and eat and drink. If I get wounded, I cannot go to a medic and get treated. If I need clothing or equipment, I cannot go to the supply room and get more stuff and if my weapon breaks, I cannot hand it to the armory and let them fix it. All of this I would need to do on my own.
Contrary to popular belief, the Military does not generally teach you how to treat water to make it drinkable. They don’t teach you how to hunt (for that matter, you only get trained on a handful of Military weapons). Sewing, food prep, all of the BASIC survival things needed are not taught.
Now, I am not saying that Soldiers/Veterans are helpless. Far from it. One thing that most vets DO have is a “Can Do” attitude. They don’t just roll over and quit.
My point to all of this is that, don’t look to the Veteran and think that he or she can do it all. In the movies, Rambo can fly a helicopter just as easily as you or I can drive a Honda Accord.
Navy SEALS can pick locks, make bombs out of Brillo pads, and use a paper clip to build communications equipment. In reality, unless a Soldier has been specifically trained in a specific skill set (mechanic, cook, medic, etc), they are just like everyone else.
Here in the office, we do talk quite a bit about prepping and, for some reason, people look to me for advice. They seem surprised when they learn that I have never been hunting. (I plan on going next month for the first time). They are shocked to learn that I do not keep my SCUBA gear in my Jeep at all times, aired up and ready to go. I don’t have some kind of really cool 2 way radio that I can use to call in for gunship support.
The Veterans that you interact with every day are just like anyone else. We are all trying to do the best we can with the experiences that life has given us. While it is OK to look to your friends for support, don’t make the mistake of thinking that your Veteran buddy can do it all.