Profile: Michael Campbell
When Michael Campbell enlisted in the Army, he wasn't your typical, fresh-faced high school graduate. At 23, he had worked in New Mexico as a plumber before returning to his native Oklahoma to work on a cattle and horse ranch and had begun feeling the need to dig deeper into himself and do something significant with his life.
After watching a documentary on the Army Rangers, Campbell knew he‚Äôd found the path he wanted to take. To test himself, he filled a backpack with concrete blocks and set out hiking the sixteen and three-quarter miles to the nearest recruiting station, vowing that if he could make the hike, he could make it in the Rangers.
He made it, and three days later, he left for basic training.
While serving at Fort Bragg, N.C., following a deployment to Afghanistan, Campbell and fellow soldier Sgt. Trevor Blumberg asked for and received permission to begin an education program for their company. The pair hoped to use the program to help soldiers returning from war address personal and family issues as a result of combat and deployment.
After their first session, however, the program was cut short when their unit was deployed to Iraq. Fourteen days later, an IED struck Blumberg's Humvee.
In the aftermath, the fatally wounded soldier elicited a promise from his friend. "Never forget what we started."
After serving four years, Campbell returned home and earned an AA degree and, after learning about the G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery Center for America's Veterans at MSU, he and his wife made the move to Starkville in May 2007.
In January 2008, with his promise to his fallen friend still ringing in his ears, he met with a group of fellow veterans and college students in Chicago to begin drafting the constitution and by-laws for the Student Veterans of America.
Campbell currently is serving as president of the organization.
"One thing I think about every day is that Sonny Montgomery had the vision for veterans education, and our job is to see that it is done correctly," Campbell said. "We have learned that vets for vets is what works best, and that is what the SVA is all about. I can think of no better way to honor Sgt. Blumberg's memory than by serving my fellow veterans."
Next week … Susan Johnson !