‘Black Hawk Down’ veteran now deployed in the battle against opioids

Norm Hooten, who had a legendary career in the U.S. Army, is now jumping into a profession in the medical sector.

(Department of Veterans Affairs)

An Army veteran who fought in the Battle of Mogadishu and was later portrayed in the film “Black Hawk Down” is now the implementation of a new mission: the war against opioids.

Former Delta Force operator and Master Sgt. Norman Hooten obtained his doctorate degree in pharmacy and says that he is making the leap to the medical field, to help fellow veterans who are suffering.

“I lost a few good friends who died of a drug overdose-related and they were really good guys – special operations guys,” Hooten said in an interview with the Department of Veterans Affairs last week. “The loss of my fellow soldiers to substance abuse is almost as bad as losing them in battle. All of their talent and potential was lost and I wanted to do something about it.”

Hooten on Friday, completed his residency at a VA hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida, and is now part of the staff of one of the VA’s facilities in Orlando.

Hooten first wanted to pursue a career in medicine in August 2001 when he retired — but he was soon called up for active duty after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He was deployed to Afghanistan, before spending eight years with the Federal Air Marshal Service and then working as a contractor in Jordan. In 2012, he ran back to the medical school to complete his studies, the VA says.

“It is never too late to make a difference and back to learn and to grow,” Hooten said. “You have to go back to your last dying breath. I started [pharmacy] school to 52 and 57, I am finishing my residency.”

Hooten said during a Military event in 2013 is a lesson that he took from the Battle of Mogadishu was to be creative and adapt to any situation.

“Train like you fight,” he said. “Don’t train like you think you’re going to fight. Do not train if you want to fight. A real good analysis of the enemy, because he is 50 percent of the equation, and then the train as you will fight. Get used to be creative and adapt to the enemy’s actions.”

Now he is telling the VA that he “cannot stand idle while veterans are suffering from an addiction.”

“If I can help just one veteran, or just one, call me later to tell me that I was able to help them out of opioids, then that would be a huge,” Hooten said.

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