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Shane Foster: Remember that first DI or TI that did more than beat you down, but built you up? That first FTO that taught you how to be a good cop? That first NCO that showed you how to be better than you thought you could be? We need those people in our life.

About the author

Shane Foster is Director and Owner of Guild Solutions Group. He is breaching instructor at T.E.E.S., a USAF Veteran. and former LE/S.W.A.T.

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Shane Foster: How a mentor encourages impactful change

The Article

Mentors & Mentoring: A topic that is misunderstood or even taboo to some.

It’s a lost art to be sure.

Having spent many years working with young people, not just in a tactical aspect, but in life, this subject is very close to me.

I have had the chance to influence and teach several thousand members inside of the Special Operations Community, primarily in technical breaching.

That only happened because of the people who invested in me.

I wasn’t raised in a bad environment.

I wasn’t abused. I wasn’t mistreated, although I got my share of butt “whoopings.”

I had everything I needed, but not everything I wanted.

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George E. Reprogle, Papaw to me, a WWII Veteran and the man who showed me the way of having a great mentor, but also how to be one!

One of the reasons why the role and impact of mentorship matters so much to me was the man pictured.

George E. Reprogle to some, but Papaw to me.

He was a WWII Veteran who was a part of the 42d Medical Detachment Squadron at Freising, Germany.

He, on the other hand, had a horrible childhood.

His mother left him at an early age, leaving him in poverty and at the mercy of abusive family members.

His story, though worth telling, is longer than can be told in this article.

Suffice it to say that he never became an alcoholic.

Instead, he loved one woman for 70 years, my grandmother until she passed away.

He pastored in a church for 30 years.

He knew how to hang drywall, do electrical work, repair cars, put in plumbing.

He taught me how to fish, to hunt and to work with my hands.

Maybe most importantly, he taught me how to love genuinely and to mentor.

He, along with great parents and family, showed me the way of having a great mentor, but also how to be one.

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It’s important not to dismiss the necessity of having a mentor or being one

Obvious problems of suicide, alcoholism, and other ailments inside of the Special Operations, Law Enforcement, and Military Community are present.

We are quick to throw bandaids at “cancer” to hide or dismiss the problem, but not address it.

It doesn’t matter how many souls you have taken, bodies you have slain, or what your bench and squat number is, it’s important not to dismiss the necessity of having a mentor or being one.

Remember that first DI or TI that did more than beat you down, but built you up?

That first FTO that taught you how to be a good cop?

That first NCO that showed you how to be better than you thought you could be?

We need those people in our life.

Finding someone who can speak into your life and say things that you don’t want to hear but need has been lost within the current generation and even generations of old.

Find them and let them know how much you need them.

Connect to the soul of that man or woman and stay connected.

You won’t always agree and they might not always be right, but you know their motives and intentions are pure to steer you in the right direction.

Have the tough conversations about relationships, ptsd, stressors of life, finances, and goals.

I have heard it said, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”

It might be better put, “Show me your mentors and I’ll show you your future.”

Iron sharpens Iron and strong leaders make stronger leaders.

Mentoring isn’t easy, but it’s long-term rewarding

As important as it is to find a mentor, it’s also important to be one.

And if you are going to mentor someone, be a good one.

Commit to the process and commit to them.

What you discuss should always be kept in confidence.

Mentoring doesn’t make you soft or a “safe space.”

It makes you human.

Mentoring isn’t easy, but it’s long-term rewarding.

Additionally, mentoring can make impactful changes not only on the mentee but yourself as well.

It creates personal accountability!

Being a mentor doesn’t mean you have to know everything and that you have all the answers, it just means you’re willing to invest in something bigger than yourself.

Years ago, I heard it said, “We do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.”

We don’t need excuses to mentor someone.

We just need to know it’s the right thing.

Reflect on the people that brought you to where you are in life and be thankful for them.

Don’t let the lessons of the old die with the dawn of tomorrow’s generation.

Papaw would say, “Son, I haven’t seen a turtle on a fence post yet that got there by himself.”

In this community maybe more than any other, we need mentors!

This article was published first in

The Operator

Special Edition February 2022: Tactical Training

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Photos by Shane Foster

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