zachariah montgomery special forces experience

“There is always a certain risk in being alive, and if you are more alive, there’s more risk.”

—Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House”

This is a sentiment that feels deeply true to me especially as I come up on my 43rd birthday.

There’s something about creeping into your mid-40s that humbles a man, at least that’s been my experience. I’m on the other side of JTF2 with enough time post-service that it’s less and less a part of my sense of identity yet still what I’m largely known for.

That’s a strange feeling. Are my greatest years behind me?

Decades of gambling with physical risks for psychological rewards send me daily reminders of those years through chronic shoulder pain and a kind of perpetual all over stiffness.

And sometimes I wonder if it was worth it – pushing myself past what my body and my character were capable of.

The answer is always yes.

Not for the glory. I never felt that anyway. Not for the gains. I live a remarkably modest life.

But to thrive in a high intensity environment surrounded by like-minded humans remains one of the most fulfilling ways I have spent my precious time.

With every breath we took, there existed a certain vulnerability either in our physical safety or in our emotional rawness. Environments like that make you responsible for who you actually are, not who you want to be.

There were no guarantees, no certainties. Just opportunities to show up as if people’s lives depended on it, because they did.

And now on the other side of service, feeling into what it means to be a man without a government issued mission. I find that my greatest years are now and still ahead of me.

Today I’m reminded I can choose my mission. I can choose how I serve. I can choose those I serve with and I can be kind to myself in the process. I will always choose aliveness and risk, I just do it way more intentionally these days.

Who’s with me?


Jeff Depatie

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!