Shane Ruiz

UNITED STATE Army Veteran and Purple Heart Recipient

Shane Ruiz was only 18 years old when he walked through the doors of the US Army Recruiting Office. At that time, he only had the US Marine Corps “Devil Pup” Program under his belt; however, his heart, mind, and even his direct family, were fiercely affected by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Shortly after signing a contract with the US Army that day, he would enter boot camp, then an arduous deployment into the foothills of the Himalayan mountains, and deep into no man’s land of Southeast Afghanistan. Every soldier was trained to approach the battlefield the same way; however, this journey would prove to either shape them, or break them. Ruiz explains this experience consisted of two groups of individuals. He said, “Our very existence was defined by victory, and the act of mere survival, every day. This served as a peculiar reality, because it began as a choice, yet eventually became irreversible compulsion. Death may have struck, but the drive to carry on in the moment injected like a toxic drug.” Ruiz continued on to receive the Purple Heart, which was awarded after a 120+ man enemy attack on his position. He also received a total of 18 other medals/citations during his distinguished service.

Ruiz believes the bond within the military community is irreplaceable and unforgettable…that it is something you carry, and hold in your heart everywhere you go. He feels when you leave the community, you feel you are left with your own journey to discover what works for you outside of military life, and especially an active war zone. Life after infantry is vastly different; however, the principles Shane follows in present time are synonymous with his military life: discipline, hard work, dedication and courage. These are all key characteristics of a successful combatant. The most impactful contributor of these characteristics in Shane’s life were learned from Jim Rohn’s quote, “The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid, be proud, but not arrogant; have humor; but without folly.” Shane added, “Being a leader isn’t given, it’s earned, and when it’s earned, it’s respected.”

Nowadays, Shane is found in sunny Southern California, dabbling in his hobbies that consist of surfing, hiking, long range precision rifle shooting, or mountain biking. Always securely fastened upon his wrist, for all of his adventures, is his MTM Watch. “Mother Nature is no match for MTM products” Ruiz laughs. His most fulfilling current endeavor is working with Veterans. He assists them in their transition from military to civilian life by helping find their first job, locating a fitting career, and guiding them to find passion outside military life. “It’s scary to think about when you get out. Any veteran reading this, regardless if they did a short amount of time or did the ‘full pull’ career, will agree there is an extreme transition period. It takes time. I found ‘happy’ when I was able to decompress, articulate my past experiences to share with others, and have more time with family and friends.” Many veterans experience a difficult time, and don’t have someone to call for advice, a shoulder to lean or cry on, or discuss what is inside their heart. This was very evident to Shane, and part of the reason why he was compelled to create positive change with The Lionhearted Project is an online platform dedicated for veterans to articulate their stories through art and film. “Difficult times are difficult for a reason; however, if you allow others to listen, you can sail home to yourself.”

Ruiz told us, “Combat engraves its way into the body, and completely ensnares itself around the soul. Insistently, excruciatingly, completely. It is ever present. The memories of war that have taken up residence in my soul are always the ones I fought beside…the ones who made it back, and the ones who were taken from us forever. With war, comes the birth and building of true warriors. Serving my Country was an honor. I am proud to have served amongst the very best, and received the highest levels of training and leadership. In the end, it is about giving back to something much bigger than yourself.

CAMP TILLMAN, AFGHANISTAN - OCTOBER 15:   American soldiers look into Pakistan from an U.S. outpost Oct. 15, 2006 near Camp Tillman, Afghanistan just two kilometers from the Pakistan border. Some 20 Taliban rockets were fired at the U.S. camp manned by soldiers from the 2-87 Infantry just the previous night, although no one was injured. Army officials say that Taliban insurgents continue to mount attacks from the Pakistani side of the border. Camp Tillman was named for Arizona Cardinals football star Pat Tillman, who gave up his NFL career and joined the U.S. Army Rangers to fight in the war on terror. He was killed in 2004 while on combat operations in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)