Southwest Homes Custom Home Consultant, Jimmy Snell, was born and bred to serve his country in the United States military. He was raised in a family who has served in every US military conflict since World War I, so there was little doubt whether or not he would serve as well.
Before transitioning to civilian life and working with us at Southwest Homes, Snell kept that family legacy intact, serving 18 years in the United States Army, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. And while the mission may have been the same in both conflicts, he says they couldn’t have been more different on the ground.
“Iraq and Afghanistan were two totally different tactical situations for us,” Snell said. “When things first got started in Iraq the fighting was intense, but after a while it was mostly I.E.D.s and insurgents taking random shots at us. There weren’t as many concentrated fights other than in a few areas like Fallujah. That has of course changed since the initial withdraw of Coalition forces. In Afghanistan it was a totally different fight, partially because of the mixture of urban and mountain warfare but mostly becase Al-Qaida and the Taliban were better trained and more committed to Jihad. They were much more willing to stand and fight in the face of overwhelming odds.
“Of course there were times that I questioned if I’d make it home,” Snell said, “but I also knew that everyone at home was praying for us, and my God was, and is, bigger than any of those situations.”
“Anyone who says they’re not afraid during a firefight is either insane or a liar. Without a respectful fear of your enemy, you will always underestimate them, but you don’t have time to think about any of that in the moment,” Snell said. “You can’t allow your mind to go down that road, because it will cause hesitation or paralysis from fear. Both of which can have deadly consequences”
However, during a normal day of training, Sgt. 1st Class Snell’s military career came to a screeching halt when he felt a sharp pain in his back. He had fractured his back, which led to a medical discharge.
“The hardest part of being out, is when you hear that your brothers and sisters in arms are headed back over there, and you know that you’re not going to be there with them to help. That was tough,”Snell said. “But having three young kids at home helps a lot. It definitely keeps me busy, and I’ve come to realize that I don’t miss the military nearly as much as I love and enjoy spending time with my wife and kids, plus there’s no more wondering whether or not I’m going to be here for them as they grow up.
Once he returned home to conquer civilian life, Snell had a job that he enjoyed with good pay and great benefits, but itwasn’t his dream job.
Then in 2015, Snell received a call from Southwest Homes owner Jason LaFollette, seemingly out of the blue.
“Jason was looking for a superintendent at the time and when asking around my name came up from one of our mutual acquaintances. We both knew of each other, but didn’t really know each other at the time,” Snell said. “He asked if I would be interested in meeting and we did but it kind of faded away initially because the company I was with at the time had great benefits and pay, but building homes is really what I wanted to do.”
In the following days, Snell couldn’t shake the idea of building homes. It’s what he’d always wanted to do. After talking to his wife about it, who told him to chase his dreams and to do what he loves doing, he decided he decided it was time to call Jason back.
“Before I could call him, he called me and offered to take my wife and I to dinner and now here I am,” Snell said.
Snell has been working with the Southwest Homes team for more than two years now, but he still relies on the leadership he learned after nearly two decades in the Army.
“Being an NCO and leading troops, you end up in some pretty extreme situations and you develop the ability to respond to conflict and pressure with calm and without high emotion. During the building process, there are times you come across problems or get backed up against a deadline, and it all gets done much easier when you can keep everyone involved from getting riled up or panicked.”
Snell says that he also learned the value of relationships in the Army, and that it helps him to build strong relationships in his business career as well.
“I’m so used to being in a tight knit brotherhood and treating people like family, whether it’s a sub or a client or whatever, I just believe that if you go the extra mile for people that in return they’ll do the same for you.”
SNELL’S THOUGHTS ON RECENT PROTESTS BY NFL PLAYERS DURING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM
I’m bothered by the fact that people are kneeling during the national anthem, but I don’t believe they’re intentionally seeking to disrespect the service members or those who have died for what it represents. I think it’s just a lack of understanding about what the flag and the national anthem stand for, at least for those who have fought and served.
I lost some good friends in war and there has been a lot of sacrifice for that flag and what that flag stands for. The flag doesn’t represent any one person, ideology or politician. The flag doesn’t represent a few bad cops or any other individual group.. If you are offended or hurt, or oppressed, I don’t think the flag should be the object of the protest. It is the very symbol of the equality and unity that should bind us all together as one nation under God, and all of the sacrifice made to get us this far. Instead of protesting it, it’s time to hold it high, join together and demand that ALL abide by what it truly represents.
I also know that I didn’t grow up as a minority. I grew up a lower middle class white guy, so I can’t expect to be able to relate to the plight of others. All I know is that I fought side by side with black soldiers, hispanic soldiers, Native American soldiers, you name it. Every ethnicity, economic class and background in the nation is represented in the military and we fight side by side, never judging or ever wondering who has your back. You all get up before the sun everyday, work hard into and sometimes through the night, and regardless of the conditions of your environment you do whatever it takes to complete the mission as a team and for your team.
You police your own by holding one another accountable for their actions. You don’t let your environment change your resolve, or your drive. You don’t give negativity or rage a stage, because it’s contagious. Most importantly, you do it all for others first, and worry about yourself later, because selfishness can’t exist in true service. That’s what America is really all about.
If we all stand together and listen to one another, without violence, rage or letting divisive influences have the stage to divide us, I believe the extremists across the board will simply fade back into the shadows, and we will be able to truly unite America. It’s then that God, unity and equality will prevail.