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Break Glass in Time of War

Founder of OPSGEAR®

Are you the kind of guy that most people don't get? Why are so many of our veterans committing suicide? Why are they so overwhelmed with depression? Simple... people don't understand them and it makes them crazy.

Do you have the ability to wade through huge amounts of stress, trauma and conflict and still be standing at the end of it? If so you are someone who should be put in a glass case and sedated, then when a violent confrontation happens to those that do not enjoy your company they can simply break the glass and let you out.

This is the perspective that many of my "friends" have exhibited over the years verbally and non-verbally when reviewing my personal life, careers, films or activities. Some of these activities I have chosen while others have selected me. Some of these people have even after a short contact left without a word. Why?

In a perfect world wouldn't it be nice if you could have constant protection and security as well as a cuddly and sensitive man who would tend to your every need, be domestic and attend every concert, recital and activity where the family is involved?

How does one break from the conflict of daily life or war where threats are numerated by the minute, and then fit into the seemingly calm non-threatening world that others see and feel? I submit that there is no such thing as a calm serene world, only the facade of the condition "I just don't see the threat." In my opinion the real world wants to eat you for dinner and barf up your bones.

For years I and men like me have tried to reconcile with not only God, but our fellow men on how to coexist with those around us who "just don't get it." Well... what don't they get and why?

First of all they don't understand the cost of providing not only the safety and freedoms they enjoy, but they often do not desire to interface with the genuine evil that exists in the world around them. They are the bystanders, that do not "want to interfere." They may catch a glimpse of world events on the news, or perhaps watch a TV show that has a challenging theme and think they have been made aware. While these examples may portray violence or even act out traumatic events, they are without the taste, touch or smell that is so prevalent in a real world encounter.

While we may want our families to be safe and to some degree immune to the harsh realities of this outside world where the kill-or-be-killed theme is the motto of the day, we also want them to appreciate that there is a breed of men that run towards the fight without acknowledging the risks. A group of folks that act upon injustice, or pull broken bodies out of rubble even though we may never have met them in person. We do this to not only shelter or protect our own children, but as a way to make the world a better place... to make a difference.

When we the warrior breed decide to act and the courage is mustered up to leave the safety of home. The preparation alone can be gruesome and life changing. Sometimes it takes years to prepare to meet the foe on the field of battle. The term "field of battle" is a metaphor for all of us who work in the military, police or rescue communities.

After initial training has been completed the warrior then enters the unforgiving world where the quick and the dead litter the landscape. Sometimes these events will be frequent and intense, other times they will be gaped and measured. Regardless of the frequency or the intensity of these events they tear at the very fabric of every soft and cuddly thing you have ever known. They create a sense of vulnerability and insecurity that only veterans of these scenes can appreciate completely. This is not to say that others do not experience traumas in life, in fact it is the opposite, because those who go into harm's way for others ALSO have personal traumas in the course of their lives. Compound these personal traumas with the conflicts in other lands, or the other events that are out of the realm of rational family topics, and you have the picture. In other words, you - the warrior - get the hard life experiences like everyone else... and those thrust upon you by your chosen profession or service.

Why do these experiences make you feel like you are an apple in a field of oranges? Simple... you withdraw from the world everyone else is living in because you simply can't understand it. You know it exists because you once lived there, you even felt safety and the joy of moving freely in a world where someone else was on guard and watching as a protector and a guardian. As you yourself become that very guardian things change... you can NEVER return to the safe place and must not only be on guard, but be prepared in every way to win the fight should it come... again.

This is a lot of information to absorb, and if you don't get it, or think I should be a "referral" to your local clinic, then just put me back in the glass case and "break it in time of conflict."

NOTE: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a real issue and you should seek counsel if you agree with any portion of this letter :)


David "JAGER"  Burnell

Founder & CEO



  • Michael Lawrence

    Dear Mr. Burnell,

    I am a “disabled” veteran who is under this PTSD category. I wondered if what you write about is a creative way of breaking from many illusions prescribed to us as children, teenagers, etc. “Why do these experiences make you feel like you are an apple in a field of oranges? Simple… you withdraw from the world everyone else is living in because you simply can’t understand it.” you wrote. Perhaps we no longer understand it because we have began to question the assumptions we once took for granted. I enjoyed reading this and hope to hear from you in the future.

  • Rich Lippincott


  • Doug

    Thank you for your service and thanks for all you have done and continue to do.

  • Greg. Gordon

    Well said Mr Burnell. I’ve often been told the same that I have a glass wall around. Me. But. Anytime but I’m the first one they call when WSHTF so be it I wouldn’t have it any other way. SEMPER. fI. Live free or. Die.

  • Sean

    I agree with a lot of points in your article, old or not, it is still extremely relavent. However, most guys with PTSD won’t get help, I personally think it’s the stigma placed upon us from that “safe” world that we are forced to interact with. I refuse to be labeled and then hamstrung by a water fat civilian that does not “get it”. I still have night terrors and trouble with even small crowds, but I can’t get help because in 10 years when I apply for a job and they assume I can’t function because I was labeled with PTSD.

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