Supporting veterans back home
Wells Fargo team member Mike Micciche serves as a squad leader for Catch A Lift Fund, which helps wounded veterans regain their mental and physical health.
Mike Micciche wanted to give back to his community, but when he looked into certain opportunities, they just seemed hollow. When his friend, former Wells Fargo team member Anthony Gallo, told him about the organization Catch A Lift Fund, however, Micciche was intrigued.
“My dad was a Marine, and I have a lot of friends in the military,” said Micciche, a managing director in New York City for Wells Fargo’s Corporate Access team. “In part, that was some of the inspiration for getting involved, knowing how much some of my friends who served need help after they returned home.”
Micciche began volunteering several years ago for Catch A Lift Fund, which helps post 9/11, combat-wounded veterans from around the U.S. regain their mental and physical health through gym memberships, in-home gym equipment, personalized fitness and nutrition programs, and a peer support network.
As one of Catch A Lift Fund’s approximately 100 squad leaders who serve between 800 and 2,000 veterans, Micciche provides support and encouragement to wounded veterans as they work to achieve their goals. Micciche checks in with his squad at least once a month via phone, email, or text. While Micciche currently supports two veterans in his squad, some leaders work with up to six veterans.
“It’s really rewarding because you definitely have a hands-on role,” he said. “It makes you feel like you’re doing something good — because you are. The first guy in my squad had post-traumatic stress disorder pretty bad after witnessing his buddies die in combat, and we worked together to change his ‘trigger day,’ May 12, into a positive. We made it something good.”
‘It’s changed their life dramatically’
Lynn Coffland started Catch A Lift Fund in 2010 in honor of her brother U.S. Army Cpl. Chris Coffland, who died while serving in Afghanistan in 2009. Over the past eight years, Catch A Lift Fund, based in Timonium, Maryland, has served more than 4,000 veterans, who receive one-year grants that are tailored to their needs and that can be renewed upon completion. Once a veteran starts the program, whether they are still participating or have completed it, they are considered family, Coffland said.
“When people think of veterans, they tend to think of older men,” Coffland said. “The average age of veterans is 32 years old, and our post 9/11 veterans include both men and women. They have the rest of their lives ahead of them, and, if they have a physical or mental injury, it’s changed their life dramatically. When they are back in their civilian life trying to deal with their injuries, they are struggling to fit in and have purpose, after being in top physical shape during active duty and deployment. Through Catch A Lift Fund, they get back into shape, learn about nutrition, and have a support system so they know they’re not alone.”
‘He just purely wants to serve our veterans’
Over the years, Micciche has formed close friendships with some of the veterans he’s worked with, checking in on holidays or the anniversaries of when they were injured. He even had a pushup challenge with one veteran. “We’d text each other and say, ‘I just did 22 pushups,’ and then you have to do it no matter where you were,” Micciche said. “I did pushups on the trading room floor, on First Avenue, near the UN, and once on the tram from the rental car center at the airport. The number 22 was important because it signifies the number of veterans who commit suicide every day. We did it hoping to lower that number.”
Coffland said Micciche is “the epitome of a leader. He quietly leads with a strong goal. He’s been reliable, dependable, and strong. What’s so remarkable about him is he asks for nothing ever — no glory or spotlight — he just purely wants to serve our veterans because he believes he should.”
Micciche said volunteering with Catch A Lift Fund has been rewarding, and he hopes others will get involved. “The veterans I talk to have made great sacrifices and some now have massive obstacles to overcome,” Micciche said. “It’s great to feel like you’re giving back to them.”