Boca Raton resident David Rutherford spent eight years as a Navy SEAL (Sea, Air and Land)—including reconnaissance work and intelligence gathering in Afghanistan the summer after 9/11. In the July/August 2007 issue of Boca Raton, he touched on some of the training involved to become one of these elite military specialists.

In November 1995, Rutherford reported to the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, Calif., for Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL school (BUD/s)—and its infamous Hell Week. The aptly named six-day stretch of training is one reason why the dropout rate among SEALs is upward of 80 percent.

“We started on a Sunday and went until the following Friday,” Rutherford says. “During that time, you get about two hours of sleep—total. You’ll do everything from two-mile ocean swims to paddling 16 miles in boats around the bay to treading water for five consecutive hours. Then there are the psychological challenges. You’ll win a footrace, and someone points at your shoe and says, ‘It’s not tied. You fail.’ … There were guys in my class who dropped out in the first 20 minutes.

“When you can prove to them that you can be utterly focused, and not allow a single outside influence affect your ability to achieve an objective, you’re ready.”

Even that background couldn’t prepare Rutherford for what he saw in Afghanistan—and, later, in the former Soviet-bloc country of Azerbaijan, during a contract job for Blackwater USA, a private firm that provides security-based programs for foreign countries.

“Children in other countries were being abandoned, living in squalor, begging in the streets," he said. "My last year in Afghanistan it really hit home. The world is facing some critical issues, not only sociopolitical and economic issues, but from the next-generation perspective. There are 500 million people below the poverty level in China. What’s going to happen when these kids grow up with this anger and lack of education? It’s going to further the problems we’ve created as adults."

Here is a recent FOX News interview with Rutherford.