What Do Navy SEALs Do After Retirement?

Going on covert missions around the world, engaging in special warfare and special operations, doing underwater reconnaissance, capturing high-value targets — you name it. These Navy SEALs are trained to do what normal soldiers cannot do. All these tasks necessitate exceptional skills from them in order to keep the world we live in safe and secure.  

If you think all this training and specialized skills are confined to military applications only, you are sorely mistaken. At some point in their military careers and after all their valorous achievements, these Navy SEALs must retire and move on to live out their best lives as civilians.  

But what exactly can they do after retiring? With their set of skills, the sky’s the limit. However, five great ideas for post-service careers would be specializing in private security, becoming paramilitary contractors, getting into the fitness industry, becoming a business owner, or entering the tech industry. 

 

SPECIALIZING IN PRIVATE SECURITY 

One of the most obvious choices would be working in a private security company. Public figures, celebrities, and high-level executives are often hot targets for different types of attacks such as death threats, kidnappings, robberies, terrorist attacks, espionage, and even scandalous information leaks. Navy SEALs are trained especially for these types of situations and they may offer services in the form of bodyguarding, intel reports on possible targets or enemies, scouting areas for any threats, and many more.  

According to an article from The New York Times, training a special forces soldier costs an average of $1 million. This includes a rigorous six-month training that would test the limits of any person such as operating on minimal sleep, surviving in brutal conditions, enduring high levels of mental and physical stress, and preparing for most anything that can happen. The product is a cold-blooded war machine that is definitely not your ordinary soldier.  

It’s not a surprise that these soldiers are used judiciously during their years of service and only deployed in specialized operations such as direct-action missions and multiple combat deployments. After retirement, they obviously do not lose any of their knowledge and skills. If anything, they are further honed by their years of experience and these make them perfect candidates for the job of protecting VIPs. 

 

PARAMILITARY CONTRACTING 

It is understandable how some SEALs may not prefer to live the life of being a highly-specialized bodyguard to VIPs. If private security does not appeal to them, maybe they may want to work somewhere more familiar to their life in the military. They can definitely check out paramilitary contracting where their skills may be applied to serve government organizations and non-government organizations (NGOs).   

It may come as a surprise to you, but there is money to be had in offering services as a paramilitary contractor to the US government. A lot of private paramilitary companies are usually founded by ex-special forces soldiers and they regularly provide services such as tactical training, combat training, precision marksmanship, and security consulting to various government agencies. Academi is a great example of a company that provides these services. It was founded by former Navy SEAL officer Erik Prince and it has grown to provide services to the Pentagon, local law enforcement agencies, maritime force protection units, and even extends to training canines for patrol capacities. 

Government service does not have to be confined to the US alone. Governments and non-government organizations all over the world seek specialists to train their personnel and enhance the skills of their ranks. Of course, Navy SEALs fit the bill when it comes to this given that the US Special Forces are one of the world’s most elite soldiers due to their exposure and training in operations all over the globe.  

Remember Osama bin Laden? He was FBI’s Most Wanted for multiple attacks including masterminding the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and is now known as 9/11. He was ultimately killed and the shot was made by no other than a Navy SEAL soldier. Clearly, this shows what kind of training these soldiers have gone through and it goes to show that they are prepared for the most difficult of situations. Surely, this is a valuable experience that any country or organization would make great use of and that’s why Navy SEALs are in demand for these services. 

 

ENTERING THE FITNESS INDUSTRY 

Given that the training these special forces soldiers go through is nothing short of rigorous, it is expected that they are in top form and shape all the time regardless of where they are. I mean, if you’re deployed in a barren desert with limited equipment, how would you keep yourself in top form without any access to fitness equipment? You just deal with it.  

That’s exactly what they do all the time on top of maintaining their mental conditions and staying alert on highly-specialized missions. They’re so used to doing all this with limited resources that they carry on over to their future civilian lives and that’s how Navy SEALs Squadron Commander Randy Hetrick accidentally stumbled on his now multi-million fitness empire, TRX.  

It’s basically a line of suspension training equipment designed by Hetrick after discovering how it was useful during his deployment where he only had parachute webbings and a jiujitsu belt he accidentally packed in his bag. He further refined this system after leaving the Navy and it is now a global fitness phenomenon. 

Navy SEALs are not only focused on keeping their bodies strong, but also their minds. These help them apply their skills to their highly-specialized missions which are both physically and mentally demanding and require utmost discipline. These qualities make them great specialists in the fitness industry where their input is highly valued and is definitely something to be considered when thinking of post-service careers. 

 

BECOMING BUSINESS OWNERS 

Creating your own business empire does not have to be limited to the paramilitary contracting, private security industries, or fitness industries. Most anything a Navy SEAL can be passionate about can be a start for any business.  

In any business, it is known that with ample planning, enough capital, and surrounding yourself with the right people, any business can become something great. However, things get tricky when it comes to getting with the right people.  

This is because while anybody can become a great specialist in their respective fields, it is rarer to find someone who values integrity and accountability which are also equally important in any operation whether in the military or in a civilian setting. Integrity and accountability are at the heart of the Navy SEALs ethos and veterans are no exception to this. They carry with them these values even after retirement and these intangible assets make them great additions to any business endeavor. 

Also, during the course of their service, they develop resourcefulness, dedication, and persistence during their missions. They also develop deep motivation, critical thinking skills, a strong sense of teamwork, and heightened respect for the value of life. These are qualities that transfer over into the civilian world perfectly and will definitely make businesses stronger in aspects that many people fail to recognize. 

Take for example the case of veteran entrepreneur Boyd Renner. He co-founded Endeavor Life Sciences which focuses on products that are centered on emotional connection. They are committed to developing products that make people stay emotionally connected to what matters most to them in life. 

This idea is close to Renner’s heart since his deployment as a Navy SEAL made him cherish the things that are important to him and inspires him to give it all he’s got in combat and eventually make it back home safely. With this, Endeavor’s flagship product is called Everence which allows people to add the DNA of a loved one into any tattoo whether it’s new or existing so they may carry them with them anywhere they go forever.   

Of course, this product was not launched without any roadblocks. According to Renner in his interview with Inc, internal leadership development and company culture was of utmost importance to them and carried them through tough times during the development process.  

Financial woes were bearing down on them but they remained steadfast with the help of five Navy SEALs retirees leading specific teams and keeping everybody motivated and focused on their goal. Four-and-a-half years later, they were able to roll out Everence with success and this is all thanks to the Navy SEALs’ values that held the team together 

It’s not that hard to see why Navy SEALs veterans are trained to be prepared for the risks that come with starting a business. With the right amount of preparation, their hard-to-find values will help them pursue anything they are passionate about and they’re surely geared for entrepreneurial success. 

 

ENTERING THE TECH INDUSTRY 

There’s no mistake that the tech industry is rapidly growing and it’s a great start for a very lucrative career. But what’s in it for retired Navy SEAL war machines? You’d be surprised to find out that they fit perfectly in tech. 

Tech companies are full of fresh ideas and innovative pursuits and Navy SEALs with abilities to build teams and think outside the box make them a good fit for forward-thinking businesses. These abilities are especially beneficial to startups because they require a lot of adaptability and flexibility since things are always changing for them.  

A lot of times, things just need to get done and there’s not much control from the top down since for many startups, there will be a clear goal but a lack of structure–which is the exact environment Navy SEALs are trained for. A veteran can easily fill in gaps within leadership roles in tech companies with his or her current skill set given their resourcefulness and flexibility in ever-changing environments. 

I know you may be thinking that it’s quite idealistic to say that Navy SEALs perfectly fit into the tech industry and you may be wondering about what really happens in the real world when they try to enter the industry. You will be pleased to know that around 100 special forces veterans have gone into the tech industry as per an article iNews UK.  

In the said article, Navy SEALs veteran Keith David tells us about his journey from going on global covert missions and managing military units in Iraq to becoming head of marketing and robotics departments at Anki, which creates mobile phone-controlled toy cars.  

He applied for a position in the company without most of the sought-after qualifications that other applicants had, but he convinced the management of his passion to translate his military skills into the tech industry. It was a matter of marketing himself properly to ensure that attention is focused on skills that actually matter in his post-service career. 

All that being said, it’s safe to say that the tech industry has space for Navy SEALs veterans who are eager to bring their skill sets to a whole new level and translate them into the real world. With their dedication to teamwork and natural perseverance, it is no wonder that they’re perfect candidates for leadership positions that require multidisciplinary skills in the tech industry. 

 

START CONSIDERING YOUR POST-SERVICE CAREER 

As retirement nears, SEALs may need the most persuading that life after their service holds a lot of promise. It makes sense to start considering how to adjust to civilian life even before retirement and keeping one’s mind open to anything just so one doesn’t miss out on any considerations, options, and opportunities.  

The important things to remember in the decision-making process are knowing where you stand, having a clear picture of your goals, doing your best to stay prepared before leaping headfirst into any opportunity that presents itself. Save up some money, do brainstorming, learn a new skill or two, engage in networking opportunities when you can, explore what’s out there even before you leave service. 

It’s no doubt that Navy SEALs are already well-equipped when it comes to life skills, but it’s important to remember that it’s all about marketing oneself and packaging yourself into something that your chosen industry needs.  

Organizations like The Honor Foundation train over a third of all retiring SEALs and CEO Joe Musselman said in The San Diego Union-Tribune said that they are committed to helping SEALs realize their post-service dreams by training them and grooming them to be able to sell themselves in their respective markets. They offer services such as a 15-week course that helps veterans transition into their next career, assisting veterans in pursuing further education, providing industry mentoring, and expanding their civilian networks. 

There is no one way to do things and the choice will ultimately depend on you. What’s important is that you will always carry your values as part of a team and as a leader; these are values that will help you throughout your career and into your post-service career. Skills are easy to gain, just give it time. Money can be earned, just be wise about it. Values, however, cannot be taught and these are things that are needed in order to make it in the workforce and to build a career for yourself. 

After all, the Navy SEALs ethos is hinged upon discipline in order to apply technical skill, tactical proficiency, & attention to detail and having that thirst for continuous improvement. 

Best of luck to you in realizing your post-service dreams! 

 

RELATED QUESTIONS

What are some other successful businesses that are founded by Navy SEALs? 

Here are some Navy SEALs who are crushing it in the business world: 

  • Robert O’Neil – He’s the Navy SEAL that pulled the trigger on Osama bin Laden and he’s now an in-demand motivational speaker specializing in leadership. He’s a respected speaker and a best-selling author. 
  • Ryan Williams – Started Threadworks after leaving military service which manufactures t-shirts and sells to stores all over the world. His great problem-solving skills helped him create the company from scratch and it’s now worth seven figures. 
  • Jocko Willink and Leif Babin – They started Echelon Front, a company that teaches leadership principles to businesses and organizations. They have gone on to provide services to Fortune 500 companies. 
  • Keith Walawender – Formed Tomahawk Strategic Solutions which provides security consulting to law enforcement agencies. 
  • Robert Stella – Founder of Acumen Performance Group which trains sports teams in leadership and helps them create a high-performing team culture based on Navy SEALs’ leadership ideals. 

 

Are there other organizations that Navy SEALs may turn to after their time in the military?

Absolutely. There are a number of companies and organizations that are focused on helping Navy SEALs jump into their new civilian lives after they retire. Here are some examples: 

  • Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) – This non-profit is focused on connecting veterans and their families with valuable networks, providing services that serve both their physical and mental healths and empowering them through career counseling and mentoring. 
  • Foundation for Navy SEAL Veterans – Aids veterans into transitioning into civilian life and helping veterans stay in touch with one another. 
  • Navy SEAL Foundation – This organization specializes in assisting Navy SEALs who are still on active duty by supporting their families, helping them pursue further education, and eventually transitioning them into civilian life. 

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