Guest column: From special operations to the newsroom


Lee’s note: This incredible guest column is the result of a lot of work. I am very pleased to announce that Navy Lt. Cdr. Ramesh Haytasingh is now working in our newsroom thanks to a fellowship established through USSOCOM. Ramesh will be writing columns, news stories and more. Meanwhile, we’ll be learning a helluva lot more from him. Please welcome him aboard!

I found a passion early in life — warrior.

I enlisted in the Navy at the age of 22 in Northern California. My contract was simply for boot camp, Gunners Mate “A” school, and then Basic Underwater Demolition School (BUDS) or better known as Navy SEAL selection.

BUDS Class 222 started out with 122 physically fit sailors — enlisted men and officers — ranging in age from 18 to 28. Five months later, there would be 18 of the most mentally and physically strong men this program had to produce. I considered myself fortunate to be among them.

Just hours before the end of Class 222′s first phase — a winter “HELL-WEEK” — I contracted Necrotizing Fasciitis in my right fingers, hand, and arm (the worst of all flesh eating bacteria).

Click here to see a photo gallery of Lt. Cdr. Haytasingh’s career in special operations.

Officer Candidate School (OCS) and Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) School soon followed. From 2008 through 2010, while a platoon commander at EOD Mobile Unit (MU) Twelve supporting special operations forces, I completed my MBA. After several deployments, I received new orders to complete a second Master’s Degree in Irregular Warfare, and to complete a PhD in Information Sciences at Naval Post Graduate, Monterey, California.

From 2013 until now, I earned the opportunity to work at the United States Special Operations Command. USSOCOM is a unified combatant command which oversees Special Operations Forces (SOF) from the: Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. USSOCOM is headquartered at MacDill AFB in Tampa.

While at USSOCOM, I was the officer in charge of the Military Adaptive Sports section, which gets wounded, ill and injured service members — active duty and veterans — involved in adaptive sports of all kinds.

To me this command was an honor and one of the most fulfilling jobs of my career.

I have an amazing wife and three amazing kids, three kittens, two chickens and a dynamic new love of life.

This June I will finish my certification through Valor Service Dogs and take home my service dog, Bradly, named after General of the Army Omar Bradly and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV).

Click here to see a video interview.

My history is normal and certainly not unique, as throughout their careers, operators go through more than six commands and count their deployments into the “teens”. In most cases, these operators will sustain injuries along their careers from firefights, Improvise Explosive Devices (IEDs), or simply from rucking half their weight up and down the Hindu-Kush Mountains in Afghanistan. Additionally, while I went through my combat deployments and earned multiple degrees, this too is not unique. Most operators are highly successful at multi-tasking in austere environments.

Today, our special operations forces are composed of men and women who’ve volunteered and made it through some of the military’s most mentally and physical rigorous training. Once those are completed, they’re assigned to special units across the country.

Now, nearing my medical retirement, I was looking for my next passion. I overheard some teammates talking about the “USSOCOM Fellowship,” which places wounded, ill or injured service members in internships with companies and organizations to gain civilian work experience, grow professional networks and gain skills and certifications that do not exist within the military.

I started in the Herald-Tribune newsroom this week.

The USSOCOM fellowship is an amazing program! I may have found my next passion.

Click here to read the entire story


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

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