Advice from a Green Beret on COVID-19 and how to keep your family safe while maintaining sanity

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Ok, things are starting to get a little hectic with COVID-19, or whatever the media decides to label it this week.

We’re hearing words like “national emergency” and “quarantine” get thrown around by the government and through the mainstream media, while seeing friends post videos of themselves in bars for St. Patrick’s Day or laying out on a Florida beach.

If you’re like me, you’re trying to weed through the white noise of social media and news media to find out what is actually going on.

Let me help bring some clarity and hopefully some sound advice to those of you that may be asking, “What the hell is going on and what should I do?”

I spent eight years in the United States Army, and during that time, I served in Special Forces. Along with the title of Special Forces came a plethora of training and experiences that have helped me during this time, and I’d like to share some of that with you.

This is, by no means, any sort of official advice or sound doctrine, just a former Green Beret offering his thoughts and ideas.

Advice from a Green Beret on COVID-19 and how to keep your family safe while maintaining sanity

Here are four thoughts/ideas I’d like to Share:

There is no need to panic!

I can remember a number of times, being in chaotic situations where it seemed all hell had broken loose and I was about to lose control.

This is not one of those times, but let me be clear and say COVID-19 is a serious thing and it should be approached as such. I believe and am practicing all of the directives for social distancing, limited travel and avoiding social gathering places (bars, restaurants, etc,).

These are important things to observe now so we can make sure we don’t get ourselves into a chaotic situation.

Panic will only serve to make things more chaotic and hinder those that are trying to intelligently work though this pandemic. We need to make sure we are taking a measured response to all of this.

That being said, if you are isolating yourself in your apartment on Park Avenue, you should probably be looking for a place away from major populated centers to ride this thing out.

You don’t need 500 rolls of toilet paper.

If you’re like me, you’re feeling a bit underprepared for a crisis. But guess what – so is everyone else! Even that guy on TV that built a bunker and stocked it with 10 years’ worth of food and supplies is feeling underprepared.

The appropriate response to have at this moment is to take inventory of what you have and the things you need.

Things you need include non-perishable food items (canned food, e-rations, things that won’t expire), clean water or the ability to purify water, fuel for vehicles and generators, prescribed and necessary medications (not Advil or TUMS) and basic sanitation needs (soap, shampoo, deodorant, toilet paper or baby wipes. Conditioner, perfume and your mango scented lotion are not essentials).

It would be best to have a one month supply for you and your family on these things in reserve, meaning, you are still making safe trips to the store to restock as long as you are able and not dipping into your reserves unless absolutely necessary.

One final thought on this, remember, when all of this has passed and life returns to normal, that guy you punched in the face for the last roll of toilet paper will still be your neighbor.

Advice from a Green Beret on COVID-19 and how to keep your family safe while maintaining sanity

Process and Priorities of Work

Anyone with an infantry background or combat arms background just cringed when they saw that heading. Yes, priorities of work. For those of you who don’t know, in combat arms (Infantry, SF and Rangers), whenever we would be in hostile territory and had to set up a long term base of operations, we followed a regimented process to ensure we would be safe, secure and operate at 100%.

Now, I don’t think all the steps in our “Priorities of Work” are applicable but some are, and the regimented process is key. The first step is to set up security. What does that look like for us at home? Let me ask it another way: How are we preventing the virus from reaching the ones we love or ourselves?

For example, are you disinfecting Amazon or UPS packages before they enter your home? We need to take a proactive approach to combating the virus’ entry into our homes, therefore, setting up a process and following it is key.

Another thought on security is that, not everyone in this situation will maintain a clear and rational mindset. People with a predisposition to prey on others will feel emboldened by the discourse and may target you as prey.

What steps have you put into place to secure your home and family? Do all the locks on windows and doors work? Do you keep your gate/fence locked? Is your car outside and unlocked? Do you have security cameras or a way to contact emergency services? Do you own a firearm to protect yourself from intruders?

These are considerations we may not like to think about but are extremely important. Another key part to priorities of work is sanitation and personal hygiene.

This is extremely important to keep in mind during a time like this. Make this part of your regiment and process, disinfecting anything that enters your home and also disinfecting yourself.

Don’t be that guy/girl that decided to go see your significant other because you missed them so much, then come back home where your grandparents are staying as well, without cleaning and disinfecting yourself.

Don’t forget to relax and have some fun.

Yes, this is a stressful time and yes, we need to take this seriously, but it is just as important to find silver linings where you can and to enjoy yourself when able to. This was always an essential part to making it through a six-month deployment to countries you wouldn’t visit if someone paid you to. 

Stress can be just as devastating as not cleaning or disinfecting and it can thrash your immune system. Try to maintain some sort of physical fitness regimen and good sleep cycle.

Also, as a good friend of mine had to remind me of recently, take this as an opportunity to reconnect and spend that extra time with your family. Use this as an opportunity to have family dinners, play games or watch movies together.

LET has a private home for those who support emergency responders and veterans called LET Unity.  We reinvest the proceeds into sharing their untold stories. Click to check it out.

Murdered officer's grave desecrated before headstone even placed

If you live alone or maybe want some space from your family (which is equally understandable), don’t forget the importance of making a spiritual connection of some sort.

Whether that is through some sort of prayer or meditation, or just simply taking some time to relax and reset.

When on deployments, we always made it a point to have some time to “Rest and Refit.” This not only helped keep us physically prepared but, also mentally prepared.

Advice from a Green Beret on COVID-19 and how to keep your family safe while maintaining sanity

In conclusion, if you are feeling like you don’t know what to do or that you need to take some steps to see you through the next few months:

Distance yourself from majorly populated centers and social gathering places;

take inventory of your necessities and create a one month emergency fund while still making safe trips to the grocery store;

implement some sort of process to protect yourself and family from sickness and predators;

and finally, remember that leisure activities are just as important as your process.

To reiterate, we are not in a panic situation and most everything you need to do can be done very simply. But also remember there are people and organizations out there to help.

This post may have raised questions about next steps, like, what does the future look like or maybe you have specific security concerns as it relates to this pandemic. Conflict International and I are still operating, and will continue to operate through this situation and have a number of consulting and security services to help augment and further prepare you.

We are open to inquiries and invite you to reach out to us for further help and guidance.

David Johnson

BDM Conflict International USA (NYC) 

Conflict International, Inc. is an established intelligence, investigation and surveillance agency with International headquarters located in London and US headquarters in New York. It is a multi-national intelligence agency made up of the some of the best private investigators in the world.

They are a fully licensed private investigation agency. They have an extensive, worldwide network of contacts and sources from law enforcement, the intelligence community, the military, private, public, and the corporate sector. These sources enable them to obtain customized, reliable, hard-to-get intelligence and provide investigative services with the highest level of quality and depth of analysis.

Visit Conflict International’s website here.

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