Michael Ciminna - Fellow

May 11, 2011
Michael Ciminna
Michael Ciminna - Fellow

As one of five children in a loving and boisterous home, Ciminna learned early on what it means to give. Despite limited space (they lived in a one-bedroom apartment for years), Ciminna's family welcomed other children, many of them with rough home lives. "We would always be the house that had kids over," Ciminna says.

At 13, Ciminna moved to Florida with his family. After high school, with service and adventure in mind, he trained to be a firefighter. When he decided against that, Ciminna turned his attention the Secret Service and FBI. Knowing a military background would help him obtain either of those career dreams, he enlisted with the Marines.

"Once I was in, I knew that was it," Ciminna recalls of his time training at Parris Island. As an air support net operator, he would be responsible for calling in air strikes and medevacs. In August 2007, he shipped out for Iraq. Working from a base, Ciminna supported a brigade in the field. Along the way, Ciminna met the woman he would marry, a Marine Humvee driver named Doris.

During a second Iraq deployment in 2009, Ciminna worked as crew chief for a command center. There, he did administrative and overall operations support, including daily briefings for the general in command. It was Ciminna's first leadership role. He avoided the stereotypical barking military commander style in favor of a low-key approach, delegating responsibilities and maintaining high expectations. The approach engendered respect for Ciminna. "They knew I had their best interests at heart."

By spring 2010, suffering from back, shoulder and ankle injuries, Ciminna had left the Marines.

While working at a bank that serves current and retired military service members, Ciminna was reminded of his calling. "When young kids called in and told me they were going on deployment, I took a lot of pleasure in telling them what to do." Before long, Ciminna had found his way to the Wounded Warrior Program.

As a fellow in the district office of Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Ciminna works directly with veterans, helping them find and file for disability and education benefits. He meets with veterans groups, listens to war stories and seeks information for those who need it. "I am there with a smile to let them know the congressman appreciates them."