Welcome Aboard

Let me be honest–I find the challenge of the “First Post” to be quite daunting.  I think I’m supposed to introduce myself, be entertaining, and give a small hint of what will populate future posts in order to entice you, the reader, to come back.  That’s a lot of ground to cover.  But the kids are asleep, the dog is snoring, and the night is still young.  It’s now or never.

I’m Dan, a former Marine Cobra pilot and currently stay at home dad and author.  My days used to consist of exciting things–flying helicopters, shooting guns, jumping out of airplanes–and getting paid to do them.  Now I fold laundry (badly), cook (pretty well), wipe boogery noses, soothe scraped knees and generally try to stay one step ahead of my kids.  I never imagined I’d be a stay at home dad and can honestly say I’ve never worked harder in my life or enjoyed what I do so thoroughly.

So, what’s this blog going to be about?  Good question.  The answer lies somewhere in the following observation:

As a Marine I followed a very well defined path into combat.  It’s one that millions of Americans have followed.  The steps were clear and built upon technical, tactical and leadership skills previously learned.  After Iraq, after I left the field of battle, the singular path faded.   Instead, I was confronted by many possible paths out of combat–all of which lacked labels, warning signs or recommended routes.  Which to choose?  Hell if I knew.  I was unsure of how to forge ahead in my life and had no comprehension of the challenges I’d face–or the dangers they posed.

The feedback I’ve received about After Action, and from various presentations I’ve given, has shown me that many veterans are suffering invisible wounds from combat, just like I was.  Without a means to process and gain perspective on their reactions and experiences in war, many veterans believe their difficulties indicate some personal weakness.  They imagine they are the only one suffering and, to hide what they wrongly consider shameful, they suffer in silence.

These misconceptions are killing more of us than our enemies.

I plan to use this blog to record thoughts and observations as I move forward in life–my attempt to define one of the many possible pathways available to veterans.  Some of the entries will be well thought out and lucid while others will betray a sleep-deprived father who can’t get cartoon theme songs out of his head.  Regardless, my intent is to share what I learn along my journey to assist my brothers and sisters as they proceed along theirs.

Thanks for visiting and come back soon.

3 thoughts on “Welcome Aboard

  1. Ali Mignone

    Happy first post and congratulations on your blog, Dan! Looking forward to following your speaking engagements and hearing about all your adventures along the way.

  2. Ski

    I served with Dan throughout the duration of his 2003 deployment, and only through our mutual correspondence and my subsequent reading of his book was I able to identify that I too had brought home some invisible wounds. After mustering enough courage to make an appointment at the base Mental Health Clinic (and sitting in my truck for two hours in the parking lot), did I finally make my way inside the facility. After a battery of interviews and paperwork, I was diagnosed with severe PTSD, exacerbated by subsequent additional combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Six months later, I am still in treatment but can already feel a positive change. It’s been 10 long years since we crossed the border into Iraq, and I’ve referred numerous fellow veterans to seek help in order to attempt to break down the stigma of seeking treatment. I’ve come to realize that PTSD is not what’s WRONG with you, it’s about what’s HAPPENED to you. For years, I kept telling myself that I’d just “deal with it later”. Well, ten years after I first started telling myself that, my body decided to cash that check. The moral here is, it is NOT a sign of weakness to recognize that you might need a nudge in the right direction before your mind will allow you to properly “file” those memories that might not have found their proper home in your psyche. I cannot possibly begin to thank Dan for the push that I needed that has literally changed my life. I consider Shoe to be one of the finest officers, warriors and men that I have ever known, and I thank him for his bravery and selflessness in putting pen to paper to help his fellow veterans. Dan, I’m forever indebted to you for helping me to get “me” back. You’ll forever be my brother, God Bless and Semper Fidelis.


    1. Dan Sheehan Post author

      Thanks for this comment, Ski. It takes guts to speak openly about private pain and I’m sure your bravery and leadership, so evident and respected by all of us who served with you, will help other veterans by providing the “push” to seek help. Semper Fi, Brother.


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