Retired SEAL fights on despite unemployment, wife’s cancer battle (op-ed)

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SEATTLE, WA – Never underestimate the resiliency and the fight of an American military veteran, especially when the health, safety, and well-being of their family are on the line.

You can bet on a veteran to pull through and be victorious. And, when that veteran is a retired Navy SEAL, you double down on your wager. But what if they have no job? What if their spouse is battling a potentially fatal disease? How do they overcome those obstacles?

They keep moving forward one step at a time, all the while, helping the other members of their team as they go. 

Sadly, we see over 20 veterans a day take their own lives in the US. That is 20 or more tragic endings to stories that needed to keep being written, and we mourn the loss of every single one of them. 

As tragic as the previous statement is, there are hundreds of thousands of veterans every day that fight all odds to overcome their adversities, even if it is just for one more day. 

They fight. They refuse to give up. 

The U.S. military teaches people how to put on a uniform and wear it with pride. They instill, within each member, a warrior spirit. When you leave the ranks of its membership, the military does not teach you how to take off the uniform or how to flip the switch from warrior to civilian.

So, it is no wonder that veterans continue to fight. 

Enter Tim Cruickshank, who spent 25 years in the United States Navy. In 1992, he became one of the most elite warriors on the face of the planet when he finished SEAL training. He was one of seventeen to complete the cycle that started with 140 men. 

So, we know that he has the physical, mental, and emotional fortitude to survive the harshest of challenges. His list of accomplishments during his career includes a ribbon rack boasting 27 awards including the Bronze Star with a “V” device, awarded for valor. 

For those unfamiliar with what that award represents, it is the fourth-highest award for actions that are heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone.

The only higher medals for such action are the Medal of Honor, the Silver Star with a “V” device, and the Legion of Merit. 

Cruickshank joined the fight, and he did not quit.  Cruickshank said:

“I am overly patriotic, and I love my country. I would tell myself, ‘if I can make it through this next hour or sometimes the next 30 minutes, I can make it,’ and it is all perspective on how you view things. You can do more than you think you can.”

So, as a retiree with such a storied career, what did 2020 hold in store for him and his family. 

The physician’s assistant lost his job back in March. Also, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, his wife Liz is battling cancer. Cruickshank recalled:

“To come home and tell my wife I don’t have a job, it was a little difficult. The pressure that it puts on a family not to have money to pay your bills. It’s significant. I tried everything and nobody was hiring.”

Would this fight be enough to weigh down a man who made it through SEAL training and multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan? 

No. In fact, it was those very moments that reminded him that this season will not defeat him or his family. Cruickshank said, “I relied on those memories and those experiences.”

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According to Q13 FOX in Seattle

“The Sammamish couple is an inspiring example of what grit and determination look like, something their three children can emulate.”

Not only did he find a job in the medical field, once again setting his family moving back towards financial stability, but he was also an encouragement along the way to both veterans and civilians. Cruickshank explained how he made it through the seemingly impossible situation:

“If you break it down into segments, like I said, and just take each thing step by step, it doesn’t seem that overwhelming and we are going to make it through this.” 

And much like the very actions that warranted the citation that led to the award of the Bronze Star with “V” device, he refused to sit idly by while teammates were in harm’s way. 

While he was looking for work, he started two online businesses, Bonefrog Cellars and Bonefrog Coffee

According to the company websites: 

“Bonefrog Cellars was created as a tribute to the ‘Brotherhood’ of U.S. Navy SEAL’s, the Naval Special Warfare community and to all Americans who have bravely served, or who are currently serving in our United States Armed Forces.

“With each vintage, we are making a humble and heartfelt commitment to financially support foundations the were created to serve the Naval Special Warfare community and their families.”

Likewise, Bonefrog Coffee makes the same commitment “to give a portion of all of our proceeds to benefit many of the US Navy SEAL Foundations annually.”

Of Bonefrog Coffee, Cruickshank says: 

“I consider Bonefrog Coffee Company my next mission, and we take great pride in the coffee we roast. We do this to support those brave Americans at the tip of the spear, we honor their sacrifices and preserve their legacies.”

And of Bonefrog Cellars, he says:

“Our American Pride is what defines us. It is what motivates us, and it is surely what makes us all uniquely and unapologetically American.”

While we are deeply saddened at the loss of 20+ veterans per day, we are encouraged and emboldened by the example set not only by retired Navy SEAL Tim Cruickshank and his family, but equally by the countless other veterans, their spouses, and their children who do the same thing every day. 

They find those in need and serve them, even though they may be in need themselves. 

Their website was correct. Our American Pride should define us, veterans and civilians alike. And we should serve those around us in need, in whatever capacity we can. 

 

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