A United States Army Special Forces officer describes his transition into the Bitcoin industry after serving.
This is an opinion editorial by Adam R. Gebner, a Green Beret and West Point graduate.
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.
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.
This is a guest post by Adam R. Gebner. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.