About Me

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I'm the author of four books: Warrior SOS, The Work of Death, Together Forever, and Leaders Wanted. I'm in the doc film Please Remove Your Shoes. I've blogged for The Washington Times, and I write for Guns.com. I've worked for the high-profile U.S.-led Roadmap to Mideast Peace in Israel and Palestine. I've also worked as a SWAT team leader, a Federal Air Marshal and a sole-source training instructor on a classified contract with a U.S. government customer. My master's degree is in Military Studies and terrorism. I'm a former noncommissioned and commissioned Army officer, with service in Iraq. I've been Scuba diving and skydiving; I have trained with members of the U.S. Olympic Ski Team, and I'm an FBI-trained crisis negotiator. My interests lie in helping others and in strengthening America through inspiring moral courage, government fiscal responsibility and accountability, and maintaining principles that have made--and will continue to make--the United States of America a blessed and prosperous country. I'm a father of six, a husband, and a police officer. I reside in Utah, and I'm a Mormon. See also www.WarriorSOS.com.

November 1, 2011

Interview with Tom Spooner, Invictus Alliance Group LLC & Labyrinth Guides



Tom Spooner is a 21-year Veteran of the U.S. Army, 15 of which were spent within the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. His reputation as an Operator and Sniper is second to less than a handful of his immediate peers. Tom's uncanny ability to teach Close Quarters Battle (CQB), Sniper Operations and high stress decision-making and planning, can be directly traced to his 40 months of Direct Action combat experience in a Special Missions Unit over a decade of deployments. Using his 21 years of tactical experience and mastery, Tom has efficiently condensed his knowledge into precise and effective customized instruction and application plans, and is arguably the most experienced and qualified tactics instructor currently available in the private sector. Tom is also a husband of 20 years, and the proud father of two boys.

Along with his brother, Scot, also a Green Beret, Tom Spooner is the owner of Invictus Alliance Group, a customized tactical training organization, training a myriad of law enforcement organizations, SWAT teams, and military special operation forces. They also own and operate Labyrinth Guides, which provides customized leadership consulting and training to professional organizations.




W-SOS: Tom, thank you so very much for agreeing to do this interview. Let's begin. Will you explain--in generic or specific terms, (whatever you're most comfortable with)--some of the situations you've encountered during your military tenure?

Spooner: My first unit was the 82nd where I stayed for 5 years. I was in the first gulf war as a private right out of basic. That was my first experience with the face of war.I then spent 5 years on an ODA with 7th group training soldiers in central and south America.

Sep of 2001 I went to selection and made it into a special mission unit. I had one deployment to Afghanistan and 11 to Iraq. I have been a part of 3 mass casualty events, killed or captured thousands of terrorists, been a part of hostage rescue operations, involved in the first battle of Falluja, conducted over 3,ooo combat operations, buried many friends, saved many Host Nation civilians from the brutality of terrorism and protected our way of life.

W-SOS: Have those events changed your life?

Spooner: Yes, Forever.



W-SOS: What was it like to have Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

Spooner: The more correct statement is, what is it like to have TBI. The most important part of the TBI process for me was to take the tests that definitively identify the parts in the brain that are not working the way they are supposed to. Having been diagnosed with mild TBI (what the hell does mild traumatic brain injury mean anyway. Does not seem mild to me or my family), it was a huge relief. The reason why it was a relief was because I thought I was loosing my mind. The tests said I was not crazy, just damaged.

W-SOS: Are there on-going effects today?

Spooner: Yes. The parts of my brain that were damaged are verbal memory, processing speed, and vestibular balance. When I get really tired my brain slows down and it is hard to make simple decisions when new information is presented. All of this only occurs on the inside. To the outside world I just seem tired or a little confused. My family and I have had to make some adjustments and gain a lot of understanding. We are adjusting well though and our life is very good.

W-SOS: What, if anything have you done to try and regulate your life back to normalcy--emotionally, mentally, spiritually?

Spooner: A lot. First of all I do not believe in the concept of “life back to normal”. Experiencing war has forever changed me. It is my responsibility to expand myself (lack of better words) to accept all of the hate, love, rage, joy, pain, kindness, depression, freedom, terror, dignity, guilt….etc, etc. I cannot do this on my own. That is why I have my God, support of others like me and education.

The first thing I did was take those tests to identify what was the problem. Then I went to the TBI clinic on Fort Bragg. There they set me up with cognitive therapy, vestibular rehab, headache specialist and a psychiatrist. I did intense (to me) therapy for 3 months. I was put on Zoloft and saw a non military psychologist. I was also diagnosed with a strong case of PTSD…….imagine that.

W-SOS: Do you ever find difficulty talking about experiences or admitting "normal reactions to abnormal events" (a.k.a. post-traumatic stress)?

Spooner: At times I do have extreme difficulty talking about certain experiences. Sometimes I will refuse to think about them and attempt to put them out of my mind. Other times (like this interview) I don’t have a problem at all. It all depends on the day. I know I must to help others. I don’t agree with statement “normal reaction to abnormal events”. There is nothing abnormal about war. Combat in one way or another has been going on since man was put on this earth. That statement and many more like it that many psychologists use only helps to make me feel more different than I already do. Those events (combat) are not normal to most of society, they are to us.

W-SOS: How has your believe in God helped you through your trials, current or past or both?

Spooner: I could not have survived the last 10 years without depending and trusting on my Creator. The same goes for my everyday life now.

W-SOS: Do you ever feel like most people wouldn't ever understand what you've experienced? In that way, do you ever feel isolated or disassociated from others?

Spooner: Me feeling like most people would not understand is an accurate emotion. They would not understand. Just like I don’t understand what it is like to be in outer space or a neuro surgeon. I thank God they do not understand. If they understood then that would mean they would have experienced what I experienced. I did it so they would not have to. My choice.



W-SOS: You spent 40 months in war operations. Anytime you're away from your wife and family, coming home has always been a challenge--at least in my experience--because you've changed and so have they. For those who've never experienced that, how would you best describe the time away? What about the readjustment phase?

Spooner: Everyone’s deployment cycle is different. My deployment cycle was deployed for 3 months, stateside for 6 months (at least 2 of that 6 was not at home), X 12. For almost half of my career. All of my 30’s. I was either on a deployment, recovering from a deployment and preparing for a deployment. With no end in sight. I fully had expected and accepted that I would eventually die on a deployment. That did not happen. My wife would say that out of the 6 months I was stateside I was present only for the last month before we started the cycle over again. My wife held my family together. At the end, we both could not take it anymore and I got out. No one can continue that way of life without reaching burn out. Me, the wife, the kids, all of us.

W-SOS: Anger and irritability seems to be one of the main side affects of post conflict experience. Would you agree? If so, or if not, would you elaborate?

Spooner: Anger and irritability are emotions that I experience when someone is trying to kill me and my friends. It is personal to me. I would go from a target to my living room sometimes within 72 hours. We struggled sometimes, but what kept it all together was respect for one another and a lot of hard work, together. What I am saying is those emotions are accurate and normal. What is not normal is if those symptoms get worse or don’t lessen. That is symptoms of TBI or PTSD.

W-SOS: You have told me during our personal conversations, that you've been "scared to death." Several people have uttered this cliche, but not many people have truly had fear like modern warriors. How would you describe your reactions to such fear and how have you overcome the fear?

Spooner: The main times when I was terrified was when we were powerless over the outcome of a situation, ie completely out numbered or mortar fire. My emotional reaction was flight. What kept me from taking action on those emotions was the amount of stressful training we had conducted, over and over and over and over.

W-SOS: "The amygdala [portion of the brain] seems to respond to severe traumas with an un-erasable fear response"--which is the basis for post conflict trauma. Some of the responses for fear include fight, flight, or under some circumstances even, freezing or paralyzation. These natural human responses to fear, allow us as human beings to survive. But, how can warriors survive readjusting to civilian life or a life outside of the theater of operations?

Spooner: By addressing every aspect of who they are mentally, spiritually, emotionally. Again, for me, there is no re adjusting. I can never go back to who I was before September 11th 2001, my 8th deployment, elementary school, or like I was before my grandfather died….etc etc.



W-SOS: What advice would you give to someone who may be experiencing stress related to man-on-man conflict?

Spooner: That is the name of the game. If you are not capable of dealing with the fact that at some point in the near future you and another man are going to be in a fight to the death, get another job.

W-SOS: What advice would you give to veterans who are experiencing troubles, even though they may not have been directly involved in conflict, but are effected by the troubles of the war zone nonetheless?

Spooner: I have found that giving advice does not work. All I can do is tell people my story. If they are attracted to my Truth, then I can tell them what I did specifically. I stay only within my own experience. No one can argue with my experience. Then they can make their own decisions on how to get help. If a veteran truly wants to get better, there are many people and programs that are there to help. I know the system is broken, but it is all we have to work with. No person or institution can stop me from getting the help I want and no person or institution can force me to get help if I don’t want it.

W-SOS: As you travel around the country now, teaching military and law enforcement professionals, what are the top goals for doing so?

Spooner: The number one goal is to give battle proven tactics and principles that come from experience. We are not saying that the way we do something is the only way, it is just a battle proven way that we have experienced.

W-SOS: Thank you so very much, Tom, for the service you've given to our great nation. You've laid many sacrifices upon the alter of freedom. I thank you and your family.

As far as your leadership and customized tactical training goes, you will undoubtedly break new ground--you already have--and you and your team will surely continue to help SWAT teams, patrol officers, hostage rescue units and special ops personnel everywhere you go, not to mention the businesses, corporations and magnates you will yet influence for good. Undoubtedly, warriors today will be far ahead of the tactical power curve if they take advantage of the specialized training you have to offer, all based on many years of recent, proven combat experience. Keep up the great work.

Tom Spooner can be reached through the Invictus Alliance Group or Labyrinth Guides websites.

To read this and other amazing interviews, check out Warrior SOS, the book on Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/Warrior-SOS-Military-Veterans-Emotional/dp/1462117341/

For Warrior SOS book endorsements from Glenn Beck, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and others, check out the author's link: http://www.jeffrey-denning.com/books/warrior-sos/ 


26 comments:

  1. Great interview! Where do we get guys like this. "Target to living room in 72 hrs." Think real hard about that...split second decisions to break the trigger or not, then whether or not you want to ask the kids to change the channel to something you'd rather watch. Amazing warriors - both the Spooner brothers.

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  2. You said it Tom G, Keeping it all together with respect and hard work. There goes those words again, "hard work" which falls in line with responsibility. He is truly blessed to have such a great family who supported him. Great interview. Tom Spooners words and actions have touched me, very inspirational thank you...again!

    I love this ". I thank God they do not understand. If they understood then that would mean they would have experienced what I experienced. I did it so they would not have to. My choice."

    A true warriors goal, selflessness! He and many like him are willing to sacrifice and ask nothing in return, not even to understand so they do not have to go through what Spooner and many have and go through. I am happy to know that so many who have given the ultimate sacrifice did so unselfishly. I cannot thank our men and woman of our armed forces enough as they sacrifice so much for our Great Nation. I honor you all in my thoughts, words, feelings and prayers.

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  3. Rip,
    You're a hero brother! Great interview and much respect for your grounded faith. The things I experienced in the time we worked together there were nothing compared to what you experienced after my departure. I'm super proud of what you and your brother are doing to continue making a difference. God bless you mate.
    Hobbit.

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  4. Spooner trained our SWAT team and brought all his knowledge and expertise. The guys loved his training style and his professionalism. He has a lot to offer with all his first hand experience.


    CW-OCSO

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  5. That's MY husband!!! ;-) He's one helluva man! People wonder how we cope with his TBI and PTSD and I'll tell you....HUMOR!! When he forgets something I've asked him to do I will lovingly shout out "Don't go pulling the TBI card either!" Civilians won't get our kind of humor and will think it's terribly morbid. However, if you're part of the miitary "club" then you understand us. We have only two major struggles in our lives today. One is watching our friends that are still in the service heading off to combat and the other is getting the information out to help others going through similar situations. Our men and women are coming home severly injured and because you can't visibly see it it is overlooked and written off as severe anger issues or depression. Tom had to fight in order to get testing done for TBI. That is an injustice. There is help out there and most of all there is HOPE!!
    My husband Tom is a rockstar!! And I love him and our new life! We've come a very long way!

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    1. i don't think nobody can go through the life in the unit without the support of loved ones. Thank you for being an outstanding army wife :) The nation owes you guys so much..

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    2. Mrs. Spooner--would you share your story with Battling BARE for us to share with the rest of the spouses who watch? :-) -Ash Wise

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  6. Tom, you have so much good energy, I can feel it through the internet and everything man! you're a true inspiration! As your wife said so well: you're a rockstar!

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  7. Tom,
    I truly have an enormous amount of respect for you. When I first met you I immediately knew you were a true HERO. Not just as a soldier but as a true friend and someone everyone one looks up to. Thank you for your many sacrifices. To your wife thank you for never losing faith in Tom and his addiction to serve his country and his many brothers in arms. To your boys you are both truly blessed to have a father like Tom. Keep in touch brother and stay close to GOD.

    Josh Moore

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  8. No surprise here! Tom has always been the personification of what is great about America. I went through Special Forces Qualification with him, and I say from personal experience that he is the best (then he went and got even better)! Needs help learning how to fish, though........
    Lead the way, Tom. Love ya, Brother

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  9. Not many a better or more loyal and dedicated American, husband, father, brother, son, buddy. His family has endured and sacrificed more than their share, and have come out the other side.
    I have known this cat since college. We then served together at Bragg. As good a leader and soldier there ever was. He and his brother Scot continue to do great work for, and with veterans. America is lucky to have them.

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  10. In Romans 13, (I paraphrase) God said that every person will be ruled by those He gives the authority to rule, and that the ability to govern others is only by His appointment; whoever resists God’s rulers opposes God and condemns themselves. God’s rulers do not cause fear in those who do good, but they terrify those who do evil. If you want to be free of fear, then do what is right and you will receive praise from those God has appointed. But if you do evil, they bear not the sword for nothing. God has appointed His avengers to bring wrath to the lawless. Tom – you are one of these men.
    Another great warrior said it this way: "Out of every 100 men, ten should not even be there, eighty are just targets... Nine are the real fighters--we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one... One is a warrior, And he will bring the others back."
    - Heraclitus 500 BC

    Tom - You are "the one". Thank you for what you have done. Never doubt that you have an unrevokable crown of authority and strength given to you by a Mighty God.
    -14Freedom

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  11. Sir,

    You and men such as your self are my heroes (the only heroes I have wear camouflage). While my generation wastes time looking up to celebrities and hedge fund managers, just know that people such as myself look at men like you as the best of us. Being a member of "The Unit" to me is something so impressive it goes without words. To serve in that unit as long as you have means you are literally the best in the world at your chosen profession, something that less than half a percent of people ever accomplish. My father was a Nightstalker and he would marvel at you men as something mythic. Thank you for all you had to sacrifice and to your brothers who gave all, you truly are Sine Pari.

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  12. Tom,
    Speaking candidly about you and your family’s personal experience with PTSD and TBI will give many warriors the strength and courage to ask for help when otherwise they may have been hesitant. You never cease to amaze me Tom.
    Chris P.

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  13. Tom, You are a truly an inspiration and great example of an overcomer. So thankful you are using your experiences to better the world through your faith in God. May you continue to "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Your BG-FL veteran, A. Tripp

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  14. I had to pleasure to have spent time with both Tom and his lovely wife and boys. My husbnad and I did some painting in their home.The times that we were there and Tom was home I was always amazed by his calm demenor. Sometiems i would feel bad for him because my husband would talk his ear off but Tom always seemed to show an interest in what JR had to say. Given the fact that we were paid to do a job, Tom and his wife always treated as their friend. I now know that was truly a gift from God. Thank you for being the man that you are. Pam & JR Porter

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  15. Sargent Spooner was the NCO I worked to emulate when I was a private with the 82nd. I still tell stories about some events that happened back then.
    N. Leger

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  16. Dear Tom & Bro;
    Thank you for your service. I hope that you can overcome your troubles and succeed in every endevor you attempt. If there is ever anything that I can do for you, please ask.
    Sincerely,
    Stewart.

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  17. Dearest Tom-
    Thank God you were on our side, your legacy will continue to live through our present and future soldiers
    If not for my brother posting your interview on his Facebook page, I would like most Americans in their safe homes pray for your safety abroad and safe return to a loving home...When you read the heart beat of your personal sacrifice, it is with a mighty pride I say Thank God and Thank YOU!! God has given you the gift of your warrior spirit and now I pray you will forever be home sweet home

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  18. Hey Tom,

    Thank you for the insight...It really helped me see what my significant other (well you know..now ex) went through. I realized some of the stress of the job but know one has really put into words what ya'll as Special Operations Soldiers go through...it explains a lot of what happened with our family.
    Thanks again...good luck! See ya soon!
    Barb H

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  19. Tom I pray we live our lives worthy of such sacrifices ... I am honored to know you...

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  20. TOM reading this leaves me just speechless!!! I am so proud of you your wife your boys!! I have loved you and your family for 15 plus years!! Thank you so much for sharing this!! Love you all!! <3

    Jules :-)

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  21. Many police officers go from shootings to their living rooms in less than a couple of hours after being questoned on scene by leadership or should I say management. It is often times is second guessing then you have to get blood taken to make sure you werent drinking or using drugs at the time. While LEOs benefit from being home on days off if they arent in a place where they almost work around the clock, they dont have the services available to members of the military from PTSD. Another thing adding to PTSD is the many car crashes LEOs are involved in over a career more so than normal civillians who dont drive for a living and other public safety personnel. Add to that the frequence of seeing people die in front of you which all first responders see and the times people try hard to kick your ass and too often, succeed, you have a reason for the suicide and divorce rates among police officers. This a great interview that I hope many people, military or police consider since this elite warrior can ask for help. So can we all if we need it. You dont have to "suck it up" and ignore your feelings. If you cant take it, get help or reconsider what your doing.

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  22. Dear Tom,
    I have said many many times before in Toms 21 years of service that he is my hero! I can't express how thankful I am to have you in our lives.. You have given so much of your life to better ours. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. The work you have done and the teachings you are doing now just exemplifies what a wonderful man, father and husband you truly are. I am Blessed!
    Sincerely,
    Susan (a proud sister-in-Law) :)

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  23. A friend from VirginiaSeptember 2, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    Great article brother. I stumbled across it on accident. It was good to see you when you visited the compound. You seemed so happy about the post-career and brother I am so happy for you. If you don't know who this is, think of your last POD ride and me about to run out of gas :) you know how to reach me.

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  24. Thank you sir for your sacrifice and service you have no idea how much it's appreciated by me and mine anyway, words cannot even touch the gratitude and appreciation.

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