Past Expedition: 2016 Gila Wilderness

Branch of Service: U.S. Army

Hometown: Bridgeton, NJ

Current Residence: Bridgeton, NJ

Michael stands in full camouflage. Someone puts their arm around him.In January 1997, Michael enlisted in the Ohio Army National Guard and served as an infantryman. On Sept. 11, 2001, while attending the Ohio Peace Officer Academy, he stood with his academy class watching the World Trade Center come down. His guard unit was activated for Operation Noble Eagle and he spent a year at Fort Knox where he performed security operations for the post. In November 2004, Michael had graduated the academy and started work as a municipal police officer. Feeling uninvolved in the fight overseas, he volunteered to deploy with a combat engineer unit and in January 2005 he had his boots on the ground in BIAP, Baghdad. His unit was assigned to one of the first route clearance missions “Task Force Iron Claw” where he rendered close to 400 fully functional IED’s safe. During this time, his vehicle sustained five direct IED blasts, and Michael was diagnosed with post concussion syndrome and medevaced stateside.

After spending 3 months in medical hold in recovery, Michael returned to civilian life. In June 2006, he was employed with Norfolk Southern RR Police and functioned as a Special Agent.

In March 2008, he made the decision to leave Ohio and move to New Jersey to start a new life. Currently, Michael is married and has four children; one daughter and three sons. He stays at home with his kids. His wife, Jaime, is also his VA caregiver. She sticks by his side through thick and thin; she has only known Michael as he is now –  anger, PTSD, anxiety, depression and his lack of outward emotion.

Through his Warriors to Summits journey, he hopes that his wife will see how he was before the war.

He knows he can’t make things better for himself or his family if he doesn’t find who he is first.

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