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Dom Raso

Dom Raso: SEAL Team Six Operator, Warrior for God

March 19, 2024

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Former Navy SEAL Team Six / Development Group (DEVGRU) Operator Dom Raso knows something about battle—both physical and spiritual.

As one of the most elite soldiers in the United States military, Raso’s name is revered across the country for his service as well as his contributions to research and development of military techniques. But perhaps more significant than his unparalleled military accomplishments is the way he has sustained a will to fight—both for American freedom and for the glory of God.

Dom has amassed hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram and has been a guest on prolific podcasts with millions of subscribers, but he isn’t looking for fame. Raso summarizes himself in his Instagram biography as: “Veteran Navy SEAL, Catholic, Husband, and Father of 5.”

In conversation with Word on Fire, Raso shares stories from his life. Through combat, grief, and loss, Dom has chosen what is good, true, and beautiful. But as is the case for all, it hasn’t been without extreme discipline, profound suffering, and divine mercy.

Early life

We can all acknowledge the difficulty of fighting the good fight. It’s hard enough with a village behind you, but without a supportive, faithful community, it can feel nearly impossible. Growing up, Dom had no spiritual direction or virtuous role models, and from a young age, he found himself diverting from the Catholic faith he was baptized into.

As he became more aware of evil, God’s beauty would be revealed to him “in glimpses.”

“Nobody really cared when I was younger,” Raso recalled. “Nobody showed me how to love God.” Looking back, Dom sees this as the missing factor that may have made all the difference, but blessed by his baptism, the Holy Spirit was working.

St. Paul says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’”(1 Cor. 15:33). Surrounded by such company, by age seventeen, Raso felt like he was hitting rock bottom. In a bout of dark rumination, he began to wonder if his life was really worth living. It was in this grimest hour, Dom describes, that God broke through.

He remembers the moment clearly: “I literally felt the hand of God come over me and literally grab me by the shoulder and say, ‘This isn’t who you are.’”

That same day, Raso walked into the military recruiters office and signed up for the Navy.

From that moment forward, Dom traded the pursuit of pleasure for rigorous routines, focusing on the physical demands and discipline required to become a Navy SEAL—the tip of the spear.

Spanning a twelve-year military career, Dom would come face-to-face with evil—closer than most ever will. During this time, as he became more aware of evil, God’s beauty would be revealed to him “in glimpses.” In the years ahead, Dom would look back and relish the insights he gleaned from God allowing him to encounter grace and wickedness. But first, he had to be forged in the fire; his faith was not yet personal.

Loss and growth

Raso can pinpoint two particular experiences that catalyzed his spiritual growth. One was a tragedy felt by the entire United States of America.

On August 6, 2011, a US military helicopter, Extortion 17, was shot down by insurgents in Afghanistan. Thirty-eight military personnel were aboard. None survived.

Among the military men lost in Extortion 17, fifteen were members of the Navy SEALs Gold Squadron, to which Raso belonged. This event was the single greatest loss of life in the American armed forces since the Global War on Terror began in 2001, and the most devastating day in SEAL history.

Going to funeral after funeral of his SEAL brothers, Dom explains the agony of watching the spouses and children of men he knew and loved suffer so deeply. “At such a low point, in a sense, of that loss, I feel like you’re doing everything you can to find something good.”

“I was engaging on a deep level with family members, and I was just trying to fill some type of gap. To say ‘Hi,’ to say, ‘They stood for something great,’ that there would be good that comes from it, that I cared. Any glimpse of hope I could add to a family member, I tried to do.”

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For Dom, this unspeakable loss became an entry point for grace, a wound for divine mercy. “Being just slightly open enough to see his beauty working through the pain that allowed me to start really seeing it everywhere.”

Recalling the painful memories, Raso compares his personal process of coping with loss to how he approaches a military mission: with determined forward thinking. “Our life is at stake every moment. . . . To think about any negative thought of me not following through with the mission . . . or not visualizing the best outcomes would literally have done nothing to give me advantage in the outcome.” Similarly, in the wake of grief, Dom would bow his head and forge on, refusing to let the darkness conquer him.

It is the Christian mission to imitate Christ. When faced with the weighty reality of the cross, we have two choices: embrace or deny. Just as Jesus picked up his cross, Dom did the same.

A St. Peter moment

Despite encounters with Christ over the years, Dom’s faith was still simmering on the back burner—but simmering it was! Raso and his wife decided they would raise their first-born in the Church. What happened next would be the second of the two transformative moments for Raso.

Upon approaching the priest to inquire about the baptism, the vicar declined, explaining that Dom and his wife were not living in alignment with the Church, and that he couldn’t receive Communion. “I’ll never forget feeling like something was being taken away from me on an extremely profound level. It showed me a glimpse into the beauty of the Church in an instant.”

In a moment of crucifying grace, Dom was pierced like Peter when the cock crowed (Mark 14:72), seeing his own sin before him, hungry for the bread of angels.

“Being told that we were living outside the Church, that I couldn’t receive Communion, it kind of stopped my process to be like, ‘Alright Lord, you’re asking me to do this. What does that even mean?’ And that’s been the journey since that very moment.”

Dom and his wife returned to full communion with the Church, and his son was baptized. 

The Rosary

Leaving the Navy and entering civilian life, Raso became an entrepreneur, founding Crush Everything, a company that aims at providing the best tools, gear, and training to protect not only oneself but one’s loved ones. As a former SEAL, few are more qualified.

Our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit and we have a duty to be physically prepared for when we inevitably encounter evil and hardship. Being equipped with the proper tools can assist us further, and Crush Everything is on a mission to train and equip individuals so when the day of battle comes, they’re ready.

Raso knows there is still work to be done, and he enlists himself to it everyday as a warrior of God.

What’s striking, however, is how despite Raso’s SEAL past carrying earthly weapons of war, he admits that the most powerful weapon he carries is the Rosary.

Dom’s first Rosary was something he always cherished, even through his SEAL Team days. “It was the one thing I can look back on where I had a feeling of deep connection.” At the time he couldn’t have pinpointed why the item seemed so valuable to him. “Now I know why.”

As his faith has evolved and grown, Raso is drawn deeper into the beauty of the prayer. “The meditations and the actual praying of the Rosary has changed my life. It’s deepened my sense of Christ walking every part of his journey on earth. It’s deepened my sense of my love for him. It’s deepened my [awareness of the] humility of Mary and her role in God’s perfect plan, of being espoused to the Holy Spirit.” For the last five months and counting, Raso and his teenage son have committed to praying their daily Rosary together—no exceptions. It’s been a catalyst for deep conversations and authentic bonding, and they both attribute it all to Our Lady.

With a history as one of the most technically skilled soldiers in the United States, Raso knows how to wield a weapon. But everyday, he asks himself, “Is my trust in God higher than my ability to carry a blade and trust in my skills?” Beads in hand, Raso stated, “This is my reminder in my physical sense that I trust God more than anything else physically in this world.”

“It’s something that I would never be without at this point. It’s absolutely something that’s made a profound change in so many different areas of my life, it’s undeniable.”

Warrior for God

Dom’s life testifies to the reality that grace can shatter darkness, that loss must be combated with love, and that we are all called to sustain a will to fight for the good.

With his overseas tours and military career behind him, Raso knows there is still work to be done, and he enlists himself to it everyday as a warrior of God. Though aware of great evil, Raso is more aware of the power of Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit, fighting with and for us.

Dom is devoted to his family and takes his role as primary instructor in the faith seriously—but he doesn’t stop at home. Garnering an Instagram following of 175,000 followers, he has become an evangelist par excellence, sharing scriptural reflections, describing his devotion to the Rosary, and proclaiming the power of the Eucharist.

At Crush Everything, Raso hopes to cultivate an environment of encounter and conversion for customers and employees alike, encouraging virtue and discipline in the workplace and in personal life, and always inviting his team to come to daily Mass if they’re interested.

Lately, he’s been reflecting on the concept of St. Paul’s Roman citizenship. “St. Paul was able to penetrate specific parts of the culture because of his Roman citizenship.” Dom explains that we all have gifts and talents that allow us to evangelize in the culture, and we have a duty to discover and utilize them.

Some will be called to physical battle, many will not. We all, however, as members of the Church militant, are called to engage in spiritual battle. And as St. Catherine of Siena reminds us, “Of what should we be afraid? Our captain on this battlefield is Christ Jesus.”