On the Fourth of July, we celebrate our nation’s freedom and those who have made that freedom possible. Ahead of the star-spangled day, Mike Campbell, Commander, U.S. Navy (Ret.) shared his thoughts about our country and those who serve.
“July Fourth is a day to reflect on our 243 years of independence as a nation and the amazing country we have become,” said Campbell, who served in the Navy as a Naval Aviator. “Though we have our imperfections we remain that ‘shining light on the hill’ that President (Ronald) Reagan proudly spoke of so many times, we must continue, individually and collectively, to set the example and be that shining light in all of our endeavors.”
During his 13 years of active duty, Campbell served in four squadrons, was assistant navigator of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and served on the staff of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He transitioned to the Naval Reserve Forces and served seven years at NAS Atlanta/Dobbins AFB.
“For me, there has been no higher honor in my life than serving our nation as a Naval Officer. It is hard to put into words, as it is simply an incredible feeling of pride and joy to represent and serve our amazing country. Generations of men and women have worn the uniform and served to preserve our freedoms and our nation’s interests here and around the world,” said Campbell, who now leads a 25-year wealth management practice with Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.
Campbell said it is important to continue to honor those people who served our country and continue to serve.
“We should all celebrate the incredible fact that our country produces men and women who proudly take the oath to defend our way of life, and through strength, seek to promote peace and freedom around the world. One blessing we all share is we are American, which is nothing to ever take for granted but rather to always cherish,” said Campbell, who met his wife, Chris, in Pensacola, Fla. where she was a flight instructor teaching out of control flight (spin instructor) and he was serving with the Blue Angels.
Chris, likewise, had a remarkable professional career, graduating in the first class of women at the Naval Academy in 1980 and was the second woman to land on an aircraft carrier. After marrying in 1987, she flew for Delta for 17 years. Their son, Jack, is a Lieutenant in the US Coast Guard and is currently based in New Orleans as a search and rescue helicopter pilot. Their daughter, Jane, plays professional soccer with the Houston Dash and is a member of the US Women’s National Team player pool serving as an ambassador for our nation and role model for young women.
Campbell continues his service as president of the all-volunteer Blue Angels Foundation (blueangelsfoundation.org). “The BAF provides funding for wounded warriors and their continuum of care as they make the transition from ‘active duty injured’ to ‘retired disabled.’ The continuum of care includes transition housing, education, networking for employment and resolving Post Traumatic Stress,” he said.
Campbell said each day, 20 veterans commit suicide, more than 7,000 per year. “To put that number in perspective, the US has lost approximately 6,800 service men and women in 18 years of combat since 9.11. The BAF is making every effort to raise awareness on this issue and promote veterans completing PTS protocol,” Campbell said.
Emory Healthcare Veterans Program in Atlanta is one of the top programs for PTS in the country.
“We are finding that when wounded warriors complete this continuum of care, they are likely able to return to the civilian sector and lead productive lives. We are the greatest nation on earth. To be truly great, we must take care of our veterans and especially those who were wounded, and we must reduce the veteran suicide rate,” Campbell said.
Celebrate all those who serve by joining the July Fourth festivities in Marietta. To learn more, visit mariettaga.gov/194/Fourth-of-July-Celebration.