04/06/2015 03:36 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

SSG Mike Harryman: Sniper/Veterans' Advocate, Miami, Florida, March 2015


I am known to many as opposing the far too easy availability of guns in our world and for working to make a world where we have the ability to resolve things without guns, where the conditions that lead to gun use are improved, fostering human capacity to resolve differences nonviolently.
Which is not to say that to me there is not a place for guns in our world as it is today, or that I could not see myself using a gun in certain extreme situations. When (through the introduction of filmmaker Mariana Cruz) I meet Mike Harryman, a military sniper ot the highest level, I feel an instant and
powerful sense of kinship that transcends any assumed differences in viewpoint and experience. This is unexpected to me, and yet so very real. I try to but cannot truly fathom what he has been through - darkness, freezing, merciless mountains, treading deep into harm's way, into the void, into danger, while we here drive to the mall, eat meals, see movies, buy things. Having his face and life ripped apart by enemy fire, essentially dying, and then the long, so very long, searing, excruciating climb through hell and to eventual recovery (if such a thing is even possible), having his shattered face slowly, painfully, piece by piece rebuilt, to now, harnessing the vast chasm and fury of his experience and knowledge in dedicating himself to and advocating for better conditions and life for our veterans, a profound problem and issue that all too often is swept under the rug. And I ask, how is it that Mike and I, two so seemingly different people with different life experience, can have such a pure and strong connection? To which I answer, how could it be any other way?