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Lincoln Club of Orange County Aug 2, 2022 4:16:53 PM 16 min read

Equipping America's Heroes With A New Lease On Life

Member Spotlight: Tom Sauer

Orange County, CA - August 2 - As President & Founder of MacArthur Group and Chief Executive Officer of Miramar Health, Tom Sauer honors his father and serves his fellow veterans by providing them with critical mental health and addiction treatment to fill deficiencies for existing government programs. Throughout his childhood, Sauer revered servicemen and spent countless hours reading about military heroes envisioning their service as “the ultimate sense of adventure.”

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He dreamed of attending the Naval Academy, but between his father struggling with addiction and alcoholism and trying to process his parent’s divorce, Sauer shared that he barely graduated high school. His father lived unconventionally, in and out of treatment centers and traveling the world to locations like Kosovo, Israel, India, Greece and more on what he called spiritual journeys when he wasn’t on his ranch in the California desert. Then, five days before Sauer was about to graduate high school and finish his Eagle Scout project, his father returned home from abroad and fatally overdosed on meth.

Sauer had already charted out his future. Much to his mother’s chagrin, he had enlisted for the Marine Corps many months before, was shipped out to bootcamp three weeks after his father’s death.

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Sauer had already charted out his future. Much to his mother’s chagrin, he had enlisted in the Marine Corps many months before, and was shipped out to bootcamp three weeks after his father’s death.

It was incredibly humbling,” Sauer shared about the first few weeks in boot camp where, arriving nearly 60 pounds overweight, he was whipped into tip-top shape and learned discipline, teamwork and cooperation. “It taught me cohesion, right? I was a part of this organization and I was a part of something bigger and more important than me.”

Sauer’s time in the Marines inspired him to double down on his aspirations in the Naval Service and education. He applied to the Naval Academy for two more years until he received his appointment to Annapolis following a year in the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, Rhode Island. After graduating from the Naval Academy, Sauer became a Surface Warfare Officer, where he drove US Navy warships over the course of three deployments before discovering the Navy's Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) community.

They were all laid back, telling jokes, had low to no ego. I wanted to hang out with these guys, so I applied and did a year long pipeline of training in diving, weapons handling, explosives, parachuting, and special operations forces (SOF) tactics,” said Sauer. “Because we were a part of the SOF community, closely embedded with Green Berets and SEALs, the EOD track is generally known for being the second most physically demanding next to SEAL training, but it's also the Navy's second most academically and mentally challenging program, next to nuclear engineering. We had to be both jocks and nerds at the same time.


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While serving as a Navy EOD officer, Sauer trained and deployed with Army Special Forces working what he considered to be one of the coolest missions in the world that they luckily never had to do: locate, identify, and potentially neutralize terrorist weapons of mass destruction. He was trained by nuclear scientists at Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, where he got to hold plutonium in his hand on occasion all while getting a “peek behind the curtain” about nuclear weapons, global counter-terrorism efforts, and American capabilities only available to groups like SEAL Team SIX or the CIA.

At the time, Sauer didn’t feel lucky getting assigned to the Pacific and Iraq where he had uneventful work while his colleagues were in combat, but instead he had the opportunity to engage in intelligence operations and learned about "acquiring" foreign weapons technologies so they could be reverse-engineered back in the United States.

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I didn’t have the traditional 'The Hurt Locker' EOD experience or any of that “Lone Survivor” crap; I was one of the only guys I knew that didn't get to go to Afghanistan, and frankly I would have loved to have gone,” Sauer admitted. “I came into the military as an idealistic 18-year-old kid thinking I was some stupid 'minister of death praying for war' out of the movie 'Full Metal Jacket,' unaware of how naive I was back then. I wanted to go fight but over the years I became legitimately disillusioned, coming to the realization that Smedley Butler was right... War is a Racket.”

Following that, Sauer spent time in D.C working for a defense contractor out of the Navy after being sent to business school at UCLA. All the while, Sauer met his future wife, Natalie, who was working for the Federal Reserve. After his time as a Navy Lieutenant Commander and earning his MBA from UCLA's Anderson School of Management, Sauer chose to give back to his veteran community by creating a mental health and addiction treatment organization while reflecting on the loss of his father. While enlisted and as an officer, Sauer had firsthand experience seeing his friends and teammates fall to mental health struggles, addiction, and even suicide.

We’ve lost too many teammates off the battlefield, and we simply won’t sit around anymore as we continue to lose teammates each year to suicide and addiction, far more than we ever lost in combat. Losing teammates on the battlefield stings, but the losses off the battlefield are the ones that sting the most.”

Through operating Miramar Health, Sauer has seen how America has failed its veterans on many occasions.

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Recently, Sauer's Veteran Outreach Team (led by a former SEAL Team SIX operator) traveled out of state to help a veteran in his mid-50s struggling with severe depression and alcoholism, living in a desolate region in the forest out of his old Winnebago, with very few opportunities to integrate back into society. The veteran had nearly drank himself to death more than once and Sauer's team drove him to the nearest VA hospital several hours away, where they found he had alcohol poisoning with high toxicity levels.

Within just a couple hours, the VA hospital discharged the veteran–stable, but still drunk, alone, penniless and desperate–leaving Sauer's team to have to rescue him from the parking lot at 10:30PM.

They just told him ‘off you go, goodbye and good luck.’ Why? Because they were simply overwhelmed,” Sauer surmised. “They told him he could just go to a homeless shelter but he wanted help, he wanted to come and get treatment.”

Through Miramar Health's close relationships with certain public programs and organizations, Sauer had the Veteran brought down to Southern California for several months of intense mental health and addiction treatment.

Like with any gigantic organization such as the VA, there are phenomenal, dedicated people who are nothing short of lifesaving, guardian angels out there doing God’s work, and then there are some who… simply aren’t.  Let’s just put it that way.” he began. “It’s the nature of the beast. The VA isn’t a monolith, and while many VA horror stories in the news might be true, we’ve found that the social workers, therapists, physicians, and nurses we work hand-in-hand with are simply fantastic. Navigating the system, establishing trust, and forming lasting bonds has been the key to our success in saving lives, which is something we do together with our partners quite literally every single day.  I can’t tell you enough how proud I am to lead and support these guys.”

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Working intimately with Veterans care, Sauer has a somewhat uncommon perspective on how different Americans view former service members. He notices a common sentiment among many on the left, especially since they generally have less exposure to the military, where many (if not most) veterans are painted with a broad brush as though they’re “damaged goods,” unable to care for themselves without charity or (more often) government dependency. Obviously, he acknowledges that there’s no shortage of those needing serious help, but he finds this attitude marginalizing and infantilizing.  And to Sauer, that’s the point.

Not unlike how Sauer believes some ethnicities and races are subconsciously viewed by the left, he generally perceives this attitude towards Veterans to be a somewhat condescending, overly maternal tendency to “take care of” those considered less-than, treating them like troubled children.

Liberals generally consider themselves to be kind, right? Even the word kind comes from the word “kin” for family but there are toxic elements to treating everyone like your family. Anyone who has been around toxic parents or knows helicopter parents understands this.”

Instead of coddling the veterans, Sauer and his organization “give them a little bit of tough love,” don't talk down to them, and in return, he reported that his veterans feel like they’re treated with dignity.

My attitude toward it is like hey, you guys are in the military. I was in the military, too. We were all in the military. Guess what? Welcome to the real world. That was in your past and it’s a huge part of your identity, same as mine. But it’s time to get it together. And oh, by the way if you’re proud of your service, well be proud of how you act now because that’s a reflection of who you are and were.”

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Sauer explained that the military is much like any other massive organization in the sense it has some of the most remarkable human beings he has ever known, but there are also individuals who are exploitative, and sometimes even worse. For this reason, Sauer maintains that one of his dream jobs would be to serve as the VA Secretary helping as many veterans as possible through proven methods.

With his long, intensive programs in Miramar Health, Sauer’s organization has treated more than 150 veterans in the past year and a half and he feels proud of the organization growing to be able to provide comprehensive and intensive treatment for even more veterans. Miramar Health has a very heavy trauma focus with PTSD being a large emphasis of their programs.

Crazy thing is, for the vast majority of our guys it’s not combat trauma, it’s childhood trauma. Our kind of guess is–and we don’t have data on it but maybe we could find it–is there are so many people who had childhood trauma but they never got to deal with it because they left right for the military,” Sauer began. “Then I even wondered about myself. I thought about my dad and I kind of processed his death but didn’t really get to process it fully until years later.

Sauer recently married the woman he had met while living out in D.C., Natalie, and the two live in Corona Del Mar with their dog Bosco. Though the Sauers recognize how bipartisan an issue veteran’s mental health is, in their free time, Tom and Natalie Sauer engage in conservative political organizations like the Lincoln Club of Orange County.

Though he had always been a fan of politics, his time spent overseas and particularly in roles where he found himself as an instrument of America's foreign policy, inspired him to take a more vested interest in politics.

"As my time in the Navy was winding down, I made several friends who lived and worked in the beltway as staffers, lobbyists, and other media types," Sauer reminisced on his entrance into the conservative media world. "One in particular, Jack Posobiec, was one of my intel analysts at my old unit in the Western Pacific, EOD Mobile Unit 5. Jack’s new gig at the time was working for OANN in DC, and was quite the personality on Twitter."

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Since then, Sauer has appeared on dozens of news shows, small and large podcasts discussing foreign policy and Veterans issues, and has written columns for conservative outlets. Eventually, this is how he found his way to the Lincoln Club. He had known about the organization since he was a teenager but admitted that he never imagined he would become a part of the "donor class," or at least tangential to it. He already had some interest in becoming a member, but then his mutual friend and fellow Club member Julie Luckey reached out to him to see if he was interested in joining.

To Sauer, organizations like the Lincoln Club are a vehicle for change within the conservative movement.

"The conservative movement is changing, and for the better. Generally speaking, and especially in California, conservatives have been conditioned to losing, becoming the controlled opposition of a hegemonic, decentralized authoritarian movement comprised of the corporate press, academia, various government agencies, and the entertainment industry," Sauer began. "As older generations sunset, Gen X, millennials and Gen Z are coming in with a different attitude and approach that's desperately needed by the conservative movement."

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