Questions about the U.S. Navy SEALs

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by ajwilliams96, Dec 29, 2011.

  1. ajwilliams96

    ajwilliams96 Member

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    These questions are simply out of curiosity. What is the lifestyle like in the U.S. Navy SEAL community? How often are they home, and how long do they stay home? How often are they deployed, and how long are the deployments? How is the career progression for both an enlisted U.S. Navy SEAL and a U.S. Navy SEAL Officer? How hard is it to start a family, or find a spouse, while in the U.S. Navy SEALs? What is their family life like, if family life exists at all? Thank you very much.
     
  2. Aglahad

    Aglahad Member

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    I don't know of any active or former SEALs here. Most statements here will be assumptions or second-hand info. I think a SEAL written book to google would help you more.
     
  3. cisco

    cisco Member

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  4. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I've had a couple of friends who were/are SEALs, and I know little to nothing except the fun stories they share. Beyond that, Scout is the closest person here to the Special Operations community.
     
  5. basilrathbone

    basilrathbone Member

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    I can speak first hand to this from the wife perspective. The lifestyle can be crazy but it's definitely compatible with having a family life. There are loads of great, stable families in the SEAL Teams. SEALs are gone a lot, deployments have varied over the years but currently the typical deployment is 8 - 10 months. Go to sealswcc.com for an in-depth look at career progression. I could give you an overview but they'll do it with cool videos. That is the official SEAL website run from BUD/S. Every other website I've seen is rife with misinformation so avoid them if you're looking for accuracy. I've never seen a SEAL book that addresses family life well.
    SEALs start families just like everyone else and our kids grow up thinking it's normal since they're surrounded by other SEAL families. I've never met a SEAL who had a hard time finding a spouse,lol. We've lived it for 25 years and while some of the challenges are pretty intense the rewards are great as well.
     
  6. LofgrenCL

    LofgrenCL Member

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    So true!

    I just happened to hop on here and decided, maybe my two cents would help. lol

    First, I had a great chuckle when I read Basil's post and she said that Team guys have no trouble finding a spouse. ("SEAL Hussies" are everywhere in SD and Norfolk. lol)

    That being said though, more than a few of my buddies have been married multiple times and from my experience the lifestyle is not conducive to an "average" family environment. In today's day and age it's hard for people to understand/accept that the Teams are your "family", "wife", "life"... And in some respects people don't integrate well.

    However, I have to say I know to any Team guy quitting isn't an option and so I've seen some absolutely wonderful marriages and families. Usually, it's the guys who can "shut it off". It's important that everyone has support, your family will miss you, a lot! That can be taxing on everyone, so when you're home, be home and be a husband, father, brother... When you're down range, dial in... That's the thing my friends who have troubles seem to always explain; they feel like their families aren't able to understand, so they'd rather stay with the boys. But, the ones who seem to have it figured out, they realize how important their family is and that they sacrifice so much more than any of us do.

    Now that I've typed up book, I'll leave you with a note on how the Teams are the greatest family and time you will ever have, you just have to let it be. Everyone supports one another and often the FRGs and the wives are often more badass and tough than any grisled Master Chief when they work together. lol Don't shy from it if it's your calling, but don't feel at all bad if it's not.

    Good Luck and I hope som of this was helpful.

    PS Don't think any set of pretty eyes who loves that SEAL title is your next wife. :wink: Turns out, it's often better to be the quiet professional. A favorite of mine to tell a girl when we first meet is, "I work with the SEALs at Sea World." Turns out it's not exactly a lie, but keeps you from catching a the legendary SEAL hussy.
     
  7. vxc961

    vxc961 New Member

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    I was in the Special Boat Unit, and in the final portion of our work-ups we were more-or-less partnered up with a SEAL platoon, which we then deployed with. Here are my observations on the lifestyle:

    -In general, your training goes in phases: professional development (schools like HALO or other stuff), basic work-ups (getting all your general skills re-certified), interoperability (working with EOD/boat teams/big Navy/task group), then deployment. Pro-dev in theory is very light duty/hours unless you're going to a school. In practice though, pro-dev usually gets cut pretty short due to manning issues, so you'll deploy, have a bit of relaxation time, then go right into work-ups.

    Work-ups vary as well, and you'll usually go in one to two week blocks. Some will be local and you'll be finished by 3pm, others are far away, long hours, or take place at night, which screws up your family life.

    Interop is largely the same as basic work-ups. I was unmarried at the time, but I got the feeling from most of the people I worked with that although they loved their jobs (I mean really loved their jobs), it could be hard on the family being away so often--that is, the long/odd hours outnumbered the easy ones.

    Deployment varies as well. I didn't deploy to a war zone, so I (and the SEAL platoon) basically deployed and lived in a hotel overseas. We were largely responsible for our own days, but the task unit scheduled us for exercises that might have long/odd hours again. Of course, there are always contingencies, so there were a few times when we thought we'd have a week of sitting by the beach and suddenly got a phone call that said "get to X right away, and do Y".

    In general, I'd say the lifestyle is probably somewhat more time-intensive than being a Surface Warfare Officer, but a SEAL is probably in a better mood because there's much, MUCH less BS and so much of the stuff he does is cool. That said, the married SEALs and boat guys I worked with tended to have a tough time with marriage, or rather the wives/kids seemed to have a pretty tough time with how much time was spent away from home.

    Despite that, I'd say it's EASY to start a family as a SEAL. They often hang out together, are loud, fun, ripped guys, so finding a date didn't seem to be a problem at all.

    As an officer you'll typically serve a task unit job (boring) as an ENS/LTJG, then the 2nd in command of a seal platoon(LTJG), then command of a platoon as a LT. After that, as an officer, it seems to me you're sort of stuck in staff land...but at least you're still a SEAL.

    From what I saw, as an enlisted SEAL you basically go through your deployments, getting cooler and better schools and experience, until your body gets broken and...you become an enlisted staff weenie.

    DISCLAIMER: I want to make it clear that I wasn't a SEAL, I don't want to make it seem like I was a SEAL, and I would of course take the advice or observations of a SEAL over my own. I worked pretty closely with them though, so I think my observations are probably better than some guy whose claim to fame is watching _Tears of the Sun_ 30 times.
     
  8. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    My SEAL friends have the same basic explanation of officer life after O-4.
     
  9. popeyesmom

    popeyesmom Member

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  10. basilrathbone

    basilrathbone Member

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    I'm old enough that I remember the Boat Units well. Some of that is all still pretty similar except that a Task Unit job was never what I would have considered typically part of a SEAL JO career progression. Maybe it was a result of an Ensign glut (mid to late 90's it seems it was) or it predated me altogether (UDT?). Task Unit jobs used to be part of career progression for senior 04s but NSW 21 followed by GWOT changed that. NSW 21 completely changed the structure at the Teams as well as career progression jobs for both officers and enlisted. Pro-Dev is still my favorite part although it's notable that some of the schools are 2 to 3 months long which is a bummer from the family point of view since we don't consider that part of work ups or a deployment (when we're expecting long absences).

    If you ever want to observe one of those "loud, fun, ripped" guys turn mean really fast, get someone to call them a great staff officer or enlisted staff weenie. That could start a bar fight worth watching.
     
  11. basilrathbone

    basilrathbone Member

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    I'm confused a little by this post. You write this as if you're a SEAL and speak from "your experience" but you don't describe the lifestyle like any SEAL I know. My personal experience as the wife of a SEAL is that it is compatible with a family life. Yes, some SEALs have been married multiple times, so have some of my civilian friends, army friends, and marine friends. Military life is hard, as is the life of a doctor or police officer. SEAL families have particular challenges but that doesn't make it "not conducive" to family life. If a SEAL has been divorced a couple of times, he's either a bad husband or he chooses spouses poorly. He shouldn't blame it on the work environment. I don't see any bit of a higher divorce rate in the SEAL Teams than I do anywhere else.

    We call them frog hogs, not SEAL hussies.

    However, I do appreciate that you got my joke.
     
  12. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Basil,

    He is not a SEAL. Responding only gives accreditation to his post.


    LofgrenCL,

    If I am correct, you are an enlisted member that will be a cadet attending USMA for the class of 2016.

    You might not want to respect wives, and may believe we are not worth the time of day, but I highly doubt when you get get married you would want people saying "SEAL Hussies" or having some young kid in another branch (must be under 23 to attend any SA) telling an AD wife of a SEAL she is making you chuckle.

    Correct me, but you are not in the Navy SEAL program, right?

    So how do you get off on saying anything as if you have insight into that world, especially since you are ARMY!

    She is a wife, she has been there and has insight, maybe not 1st hand, but surely personal impact.

    If we want to talk about chuckling...
    Who on earth do you hang out with that have been married multiple times and yet you are young enough to make the age requirement for an SA? 22 and you have buddies married multiple times. Our DS will be 22 in Feb, and his married friends are on their 1st marriage. The 1st divorced friend I had was when I hit 30.

    You have not only divorce friends at 22, but they were also married "MULTIPLE" times. Your words, not mine.

    Flame me, I am okay with it.

    Basil as a spouse IMPO has more of a perspective as a SEAL wife than you do as a member in the Army. It would be like AF enlisted telling Army spouses how the Huey world operates.
     
  13. vxc961

    vxc961 New Member

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    Here's what I saw on the O-side: Because the jobs after platoon commander (O-3) were not usually highly regarded, attrition was usually pretty high. That meant a lot of those staff jobs were hard to fill. So the Navy's answer was to pump a few more ensigns through BUD/S.

    This meant some lucky Officers got 3 platoons under their belt (3rd O or SBU, AOIC, and OIC), but very often the first tour was a short staff tour, designed to "give perspective" as a task unit guy.

    This also meant that competition to be a platoon OIC was even tougher, and so attrition at the O-3 level went up.

    Not sure if you're taking a shot at me or not, but when I said "staff weenie", I think it's clear that from the operator's perspective, that's what they are. If the operator's in a staff job, I often heard him refer to himself as "staff weenies" or much worse.

    Keep in mind those "staff weenies" still work out the first two hours of every day, get to go to cool schools, keep up dive/jump/demo skills and there other opportunities that pop up. I learned that being at an SBU was the SECOND best job in the Navy...

    You did make me realize that I'm drifting into talking too much about a job I *didn't* have, so I'll shut my cakehole now.
     
  14. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    Pima, I think LofgrenCL is for real. He consistently capitalized the word "Team" in his posts. He likely doesn't have the "family life" experience yet, though, so he simply is popping off with views that he likely will change over the course of his career (once he meets someone like basilrathbone).

    I also want to say that I am really glad that basilrathbone is a part of SAF. I view her comments as always extraordinary and didn't know this fact about her until now. (or maybe I just forgot).
     
  15. basilrathbone

    basilrathbone Member

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    I didn't mean to take a shot at you. You said you were at a Boat Unit and I know what that entails and how closely you worked with SEALs which gives you a great perspective, one that I don't have but I greatly respect. What I meant is that they could lament it themselves (which is frequent even in a platoon) but it's fun to watch them when someone outside says it.

    Am I off in my mid to late 90's time frame? That's the only time I remember the glut that you're describing. The reason I bring it up is that it doesn't really describe the typical career progression that the OP asks about.

    I should say that the post 03 viewpoint that you bring up is very much a young guy perspective. It's a line that we're all fed and JO wives cling to. That concept kept me going for several years. However, it doesn't really match reality in many cases. When my husband made 04 I did a jig and he was very nearly depressed. Had we known then what was coming our reactions would have been reversed. It turns out that there are still plenty of opportunities post 03. It's the dirty little secret in the SEAL Teams perpetuated by those who don't want the young wives to jump ship. At least that's my working theory...
     
  16. basilrathbone

    basilrathbone Member

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    I appreciate the kind words, patentesq, but I'm with Pima on this. I can't fathom a SEAL not knowing the term frog hog. The misuse of FRG I can overlook as maybe a young SEAL not understanding the terms, but frog hog is as basic as it gets.
     
  17. vxc961

    vxc961 New Member

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    My perspective is from the mid-2000's, but my peers were the O2/O3 frogs, not O4+. I suppose I'm parroting what I heard from the JOs back then.

    Thanks for keeping me on track w/OP's question though. I think for the sake of brevity in my previous post, I sacrificed clarity; it seemed to me that the work and the comradery (sp?) of a platoon was "were it was at". Post O3, there were certainly "special projects" that would pop up, but the comradery of working up and deploying with a platoon wasn't there.

    "Glut" is probably not the right word either; There were more JOs than there were platoons, and not every JO got to do 3 platoons. It seemed to me there was some frustration there.

    Also, the public BUPERS website has "community briefs" that will show you the ideal (their word) career progression for most of the communities. I think Basil can add probably add some good perspective on that; one thing to remember is that that stuff changes all the time. So by the time you're an O4 it'll probably be a fair amount different.
     
  18. basilrathbone

    basilrathbone Member

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    Gotcha. I didn't consider the 2000's because I didn't think they were called Boat Units then. 2005 is well after the restructure so that surprises me a little about the post 03 view considering the new set up. But the frustration doesn't surprise me a bit. Frustrated SEALs complain to their wives who complain to me. Platoon life is definitely where it's at. My husband's dream job would be to be an E5 in a platoon perpetually.

    My best perspective is on family life in the SEAL Teams. For career progression overview and questions about the pipeline the best place to go is sealswcc.com or call 888-usn-seal. They are located at BUD/S, on the Grinder, nestled between all of the West Coast SEAL Teams and are always up to date with changes, which are pretty constant.
     
  19. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    There might be an argument then, that the Navy is producing some pretty soft master chiefs then, eh? Perhaps enlisted DO make rate too fast these days!?!?! :biggrin::wink:
     
  20. basilrathbone

    basilrathbone Member

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    I get that you're making a joke but any SEAL making master chief after the last 10 years we've just lived through is not making rate too fast and is certainly not soft. He probably just seems less intimidating than his wife who may not look grisled but make no doubt she is tough as nails. Chief wives make the SEAL community run and we're all better off for it. The next time you meet one, tip your cap to her. It can't be understated how much she deserves it.
     

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