One Veteran's Story: An Orange-Pilled Green Beret

Authored by Adam R. Gebner, a Green Beret and West Point graduate, via Bitcoin Magazine,

The opinions expressed throughout this piece are mine alone, and in no way reflect official policy or opinions of the U.S. Army or the U.S. Department of Defense. Though I am by no means a writer, I hope that by publishing this, more service members consider working in the Bitcoin industry and Bitcoin companies consider expanding their efforts to hire Veterans. Additionally, I am always learning more about Bitcoin, how it works, and the potential value it may bring to our world. Please let me know where I am off base, thanks!

Early in my life, I knew I wanted to be a Green Beret officer. Fighting to liberate oppressed people by working by, with, and through local populations was at the core of my motivations to choose this path. I saw the Special Forces’ mission as a cost and risk-efficient way to prevent large-scale conflict while enabling people to defend themselves and secure their own freedom. After graduating from West Point in 2014 and serving with the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) for three years, I ultimately earned my Green Beret and an opportunity to lead a detachment of America’s Chosen Soldiers. Now that I’ve accomplished what I set out to do with my military career by commanding an “A-team” for two years, I am looking forward to the next mission in my professional life: contributing to the adoption and integration of the best freedom-protecting innovation in modern history — Bitcoin.

One Veteran's Story: An Orange-Pilled Green Beret

Like so many others, I had a few touch points with Bitcoin before seriously considering the validity of the technology. In 2010, during my first year at West Point, I overheard a few Computer Science majors discussing this “internet money” and I foolishly dismissed it without trying to learn anything else. Then in 2013, when I started learning about investing and economics, I stumbled across bitcoin again. I read a little bit more into it, but not enough to understand how it could replace gold as a sound money system (thanks Peter Schiff…).

Finally, in the summer of 2017, when I was deployed to the Republic of Georgia, “number-go-up” piqued my curiosity and I made my first attempt at buying some bitcoin. Unfortunately for me, the exchange I used, Coinbase, didn’t accept my orders because even though I had an American driver's license and a U.S. Passport, I had an Italian phone number and was in the Republic of Georgia which, apparently, was suspicious. I completely missed that bull run, but I finally started to learn more about bitcoin and the potential of this innovation.

The concepts I learned reading about Austrian economics, personal investing and American history clicked shortly after. My perspective on some of the most persistent problems around the world shifted towards the realization that our global monetary system is corrupt, pricing signals are severely distorted, and the national and global debt is unsustainable. Since then, I have continued to learn about economics, bitcoin, and the growing industry around it, while stacking sats as often as possible.

This year, I completed my time in command and I had to make a career decision: continue serving in the Army or transition out. Service members, especially those who choose to serve for the standard 20-year career, have my deepest respect. Military life isn’t easy, it requires giving up a wide swath of freedoms, volunteering your life in order to protect national interests and persisting through deep uncertainty. The military profession can provide an honorable career, but for a variety of personal and professional reasons, I am called to do something else. I am inspired and encouraged to find work that contributes to a free and prosperous world, work that creates value for others, work that fixes systemic problems. For me, this means taking my experience leading diverse, cross-functional teams to market with the goal of contributing to the continued success and expansion of Bitcoin.

For any service member or Veteran who might be reading this, if you want to develop technical skills, take advantage of the Career Skillbridge Program. I am on my way to enrolling in a Vet Tec program, a Veterans Affairs program to train transitioning service members on a variety of in-demand technical skills, like computer programing and data processing. My experience creating models while studying mechanical engineering has helped with the learning curve, as has some experience working through classes on Code Academy. But anyone with an honest desire to learn will be successful. Not every Veteran or member of the Bitcoin industry needs to have these technical skills, however, for those who want to work in product development, or management, I believe having experience with software engineering, computer science or programming is next to essential and will make you much more marketable to bitcoin-focused companies.

Other vets in the industry have been incredibly helpful. Oftentimes a cold-message over LinkedIn results in an enthusiastic response and a phone call. Veterans currently working with Bitcoin know that as service members leave, they want to continue serving in a principle-based organization, and Bitcoin is arguably the most freedom-preserving industry to work in. For service members on their way out, find people who have already made the switch. They are great sounding boards for your ideas and bump-steering potential career plans. You will only leave the military once (hopefully), talk to as many people as possible who have done it before you and are now working in your targeted industry.

To me, and many other Veterans, serving in an industry with an inspiring, impactful mission is an essential requirement for a post-military career. Out of all the options, I believe that working in the Bitcoin industry and helping spread the adoption of bitcoin is an excellent fit for the dedicated, principled and team-oriented Veterans looking for their next opportunity to contribute to society. To Bitcoin companies, talk with and hire Veterans. There are many ways to provide transitioning Veterans with trial runs with your company, at no cost to you. I think you will find that Veterans are competent members of your team who will remain dedicated to your mission and their coworkers.

I see the potential of a civilian career working with Bitcoin as an incredible opportunity to pursue following the end of a highly rewarding period of military service. I am excited to contribute to the growth of the network and adoption of the technology. Despite the FUD and recent global instability, I am optimistic for our future. As a Green Beret who was trained to foment revolutions in pursuit of the expansion of human freedoms, I have high hopes for what Bitcoiners can do for humanity.

[ZH: Adam's story was not alone and we thought the following, authored by Luke Groom, a West Point graduate and Army Enginner Officer, offered further insights as to why veterans find bitcoin so compelling.]

The Constitution was the code which enabled the protocol of America, Land of the Free — and Bitcoin builds upon this freedom.

One Veteran's Story: An Orange-Pilled Green Beret

Within the Bitcoin community, U.S. military service members are sometimes viewed with suspicion. I don’t know where this suspicion comes from. Maybe the libertarian elements of the community are against things that remind them of Big Government. Maybe Left elements of the community are against things that remind them of guns and violence. Maybe people think we are infiltrating the Bitcoin ranks to secretly further the interests of the Military Industrial Complex. I can only speculate. For me, the transition from service member to Bitcoiner is obvious. I will outline three reasons: freedom, responsibility and code. Throughout, I will refer to “military service members” and “Veterans” interchangeably, because they are the same people, just at different periods of life.

First, the key value which drives many young men and women to join the military is the same key value that Bitcoin promotes. If you ask someone why they chose to serve in the military, and continue to dig into their answer, somewhere in there is almost always a desire to promote liberty and freedom. At its core, Bitcoin is freedom money. It is free from debasement, free from political influence, free from seigniorage, free from centralization, free from manipulation and free from compulsion. Most people join the military because they value liberty. They value free markets. They want to fight for the “Land of the Free.” Sure, actual results may vary, but the desire is there.

Consider that we have centrally controlled fiat money, capable of debasement, political influence, theft via seigniorage and manipulated pricing via fixing of interest rates. Consider that fiat money is at least half of essentially every transaction. That means that not only do we not have a free market of money; we don’t have a free market of anything! Imagine the disillusionment of a service member who has dedicated their life to fighting for freedom, only to realize that we live in this unfree, manipulated-market world. Then they learn about Bitcoin. Becoming a Bitcoiner means voting with your energy in favor of free markets and all the freedom that Bitcoin represents. They realize that if they put their energy into Bitcoin, whether their purchasing power goes up or goes down, they are fighting for freedom, just like their inspiration to join the military to begin with.

Second, most Veterans crave increased personal responsibility. The military is great for teaching young people responsibility. Get up. Make your bed. Exercise. Go to work. Wear the right thing. Be on time. Be reliable. Be accountable. Lead. Follow. Take care of your buddies. The military has built in forcing functions to teach responsibility.

There comes a time, however, when you want to take the training wheels off. You want to show your personal responsibility without someone looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re doing it right. You want more than five options for your retirement investments. You want to shout, “I’m a peacock, you gotta let me fly!” Bitcoin aligns with that desire. You have to do your own research. You have to take responsibility for custody (or responsibility for counterparty risk). You have to accept the volatility in its conversion rate to fiat. There’s no safety net in the Bitcoin market, and that increased personal responsibility is liberating for many Veterans.

Last, every Veteran swears an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. As I’ve gone through law school, I’ve developed a greater appreciation for that document. We live in a polarized country. I’ve seen a lot of that country first-hand, living in Chicago, New York, Missouri, North Carolina and Washington. I’ve lived in the city, the suburbs and small towns. I’ve worked with millionaires and with people without a sat to their name. I’ve shared meals with people who have lost friends fighting overseas and with people who have protested at Army bases. Our citizens look different, sound different and have vastly different values. With citizens who are so dissimilar, what is holding this country together?

I would argue that the Constitution holds this country together and defines who we are as a nation. The Constitution is less than 5,000 words of code that set-in motion the protocol that is the United States of America. We have since seen that code soft forked in the form of amendments to the Constitution. We have seen layer upon layer of government built on top of that code, in similar ways that layers are being built upon Bitcoin. Some could successfully argue that we have seen the code ignored or misinterpreted beyond recognition. However, this code is at the heart of our country. Every service member swears to support and defend, not a man, not a military industrial complex, but that Constitution. For Veterans who have already sworn to possibly give their lives for the sake of one code, the step to embrace code-based money is natural.

Finally, my Veterans Day would not be complete without thanking a Veteran or two. Thank you, Anthony Pompliano and Preston Pysh. Without you two, I might still be thinking that Bitcoin was “probably nothing.” Happy Veterans Day.

[ZH: Finally, before we leave the topic of Veterans and Bitcoin, the following brief excerpt from 'Captain Sidd's recent note helps explain why adopting bitcoin on Veterans Day can help put an end to forever wars that unnecessarily risk the lives of U.S. soldiers.]

One Veteran's Story: An Orange-Pilled Green Beret

Widespread adoption of bitcoin as a monetary unit, in place of fiat currencies like the U.S. dollar, would tightly control or completely eliminate a government’s ability to print money. Just as the gold standard kept U.S. spending largely in check, a bitcoin standard will limit spending on military adventures abroad and costly programs at home. Government programs will need the support of the people to continue receiving funding, or else the increased taxation needed to fund those programs will lead to voting out politicians who support them. The feedback loop of rising spending between government and supported industries — like the arms industry in the U.S. — will largely disappear as public sentiment plays a larger role in allocation of government funds.

I am hopeful we can achieve a bitcoin standard because doing so does not require us to lobby the very politicians who benefit most from the existing monetary system. Achieving a bitcoin standard only requires that we as individuals and communities continue to adopt bitcoin to a greater degree as a savings tool and monetary medium. If we all hold and transact in bitcoin instead of fiat currencies, the fiat money printer has nobody to suck purchasing power from and the politics of money printing will necessarily reform.

Let’s honor our military veterans by only putting soldiers into war when absolutely necessary. Our collective and peaceful actions can end the funding source for unaccountable, brutal and life-destroying forever wars.

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