Many of my friends think I am crazy for leaving the $140,000 -$200,000 a year job I landed as I left the Army in 2013. They would tell me things like “wow you really landed on your feet” or “it is amazing you picked that job up right out of the gate.” I have to admit that there have been times over the past year where I wondered if I was crazy for leaving the safety and security of a well-paying job for the uncertainty of a startup and the hardships that come with it. This has been a difficult road and it has certainly shaken my will, self-esteem, and has caused me to question what I am doing on more than one occasion. There is nothing like trying to get a startup of any kind off the ground to test someone’s will and to make them question themselves and their motivations over and over. So why am I doing this?
They say that it takes a person 10,000 hours or more of practice to master anything. I have watched PHDs, MDs, Pro Athletes, Special Forces soldiers and others at the top of their game out perform their peers after five or more years in their jobs. No rookie walks in to the game performing at the professional level without paying their dues in practice and failures. I can say the same thing happened to me in my Special Forces career and my time as a Government Contractor. I will never say that I was the ultimate authority in all things Special Forces or in my Government Contracting job but what I did become and master in was a niche area called personnel recovery. My career in Special Forces led me to become a Special Forces Intelligence Sergeant which led me to become a Personnel Recovery Professional and Planner. Personnel Recovery is the government’s version of a missing persons’ investigator and rescue coordinator. Personnel Recovery is about training people not to become captured or missing, planning to prevent it, and coming to the rescue when it happens. Personnel Recovery uses military, civil, diplomatic, and legal means to bring others home to their families. That experience led me to well over 10,000 hours of both direct and indirect case work and both success and failure.
My experiences, case work, and graduate research for a Masters of Arts in Diplomacy brought several problems to light and gaps that needed to be solved. Perhaps the biggest is that there are at risk populations who are incredibly vulnerable to being kidnapped and exploited by criminals, terrorists, and opportunists. The criminal networks who kidnap people for ransom are also the same networks who engage in human trafficking, and are the same networks who sell human organs on the black market. The at risk populations often become victimized in many different ways over and over again often doing little to counter the criminals. These at risk groups are missionary organizations, humanitarian aid organizations, freelance journalists, and adventure seeking travelers. The at risk groups do little to train their people in travel safety and security, or to implement sound pre travel crisis planning before going overseas. These same at risk groups even more often go overseas without insurance or the ability to secure a professional consultant when someone is kidnapped or missing.
Many of these kidnappings, abductions, and human trafficking incidents go unreported yet I can tell you about many of them. I can tell you horrific stories of Christian missionaries, aid workers, and journalists being raped, assaulted, and sold to other groups, and about multi-million dollar ransoms being paid to get them home. I can also tell you about many who have been left in captivity for years in places like Mali because the ransom demands were outrageous. I am convinced that many of these incidents could and should have been prevented by training people prior to going overseas. They could have been prevented by doing risk assessments and mitigating the risks with security practices. Even more we could mitigate the risks by putting pressure on the criminal networks by collecting evidence, building cases, and demanding prosecution. The insurance and big business answer of just paying a ransom is not good enough.
I founded Captive Audience Prevention Training and Recovery Team LLC on May 19th 2017 to help provide a solution to this global problem. I am currently founding a parallel nonprofit Captive Audience Prevention Training and Recovery Team Inc to provide the same resources to groups and individuals who simply cannot afford to pay for the services we provide on the for profit side. I am committed to be part of the solution because knowing about the atrocities that are going on around me and doing nothing about it is something I cannot tolerate. So was I crazy for taking on this endeavor and leaving the safety and security of a high paying job? My answer is maybe a little but at least I am fighting to do something.