An officer with years of experience, Michael had no shortage of job prospects in the private sector and it wasn’t long before he had a decision to make. But after a series of interviews with Walmart, Michael knew he had found the perfect place.
So in 2004, Michael began his new career as an Operations Manager in Tobyhannah, Pennsylvania. It was a big change at first, but the support from his fellow associates helped.
“There were some prior service veterans that I had the good fortune to be reporting to, and they would sit down with me and make me feel that I had all the time in the world to talk about any of the struggles that we all have,” he said.
Drawing on his military leadership experience, Michael brought a unique perspective to his new role. Today, he is General Transportation Manager at a Walmart distribution center in Woodland, Pennsylvania, where he oversees everything from maintenance of vehicles to the safety department that ensures the well-being of his team.
Once he finally felt established in his new life as a private citizen, Michael started thinking about how to give back.
“I figured it was my turn to reach backwards and pull somebody else up,” he said.
So he volunteered to join the Walmart Foundation State Advisory Council, which is comprised of managers across each state who help support local communities. Once onboard, he noticed that despite the strong veteran presence in Pennsylvania, no veterans’ organizations were applying for grants. That’s when he found Operation Homefront, an organization that provides financial assistance to military families and veterans.
He brought the organization to the council’s attention, and soon Michael was off to deliver a check himself. He and the organization’s regional director instantly connected over their shared passion. So well, in fact, that before he left that day, the director asked Michael to join Operation Homefront’s advisory board.
Ever since, Michael has made it his mission to make a difference in the lives of military families. Last year, Michael received the Walmart Logistics Community Champion Award for his work with Operation Homefront, which under his leadership, coordinated the efforts of more than 170 volunteers, 6,500 volunteer hours, and fundraising efforts that raised more than $350,000 for veterans in 2015.
Through his work with Operation Homefront, Michael also began working with Penn State University’s Military Appreciation Committee. Together they organize events like Seats for Service Members, which donates free Penn State football tickets to military families. Every year at a Military Appreciation Day football game, Michael assembles the volunteer forces of Operation Homefront, Walmart, and Penn State to throw a massive cookout for current and active service members and their families.
Earlier this month, 500 Walmart volunteers converged on State College to serve food to nearly 10,000 military families before the game.
“It’s just great to be able to show them that we have their backs, and that we haven’t forgotten what they’ve been through, and most of all, that we truly appreciate what they’ve done for our country," he said.
Michael has received multiple honors for his support for veterans, but he’ll be the first to tell you that the recognition is the result of the teamwork from his fellow Walmart volunteers.
“It’s not just me,” he insisted. “It’s the teammates I’ve got around me."