Michael Dorman, founder and executive director of Military Missions in Action, will be among the 18 recipients of the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor.
MMIA is a North Carolina-based non-profit that helps veterans with disabilities, both physical and mental, achieve independent living. All veterans who have served are eligible to receive services including home modification, rehabilitation and family assistance. Since 2008, the organization has completed more than 100 home modification projects and shipped thousands of care packages to soldiers.
“I’m very honored to go meet the President of the United States and receive such a prestigious award,” Dorman said.
Still, the 20-year Coast Guard veteran remains humble, saying it’s not about him. The award belongs to two groups of volunteers – those that have served their country and those that serve the veterans with Military Missions in Action.
“All I’m doing is helping people that need help,” Dorman said.
He and the other award recipients will be recognized on Friday at the White House. Among them are Dr. T. Berry Brazelton of Boston, Adam Burke of Jacksonville, Fla., Mary Jo Copeland of Minneapolis, Minn., Maria Gomez of Washington, D.C., Pamela Green Jackson of Albany, Ga., Janice Jackson of Baltimore, Md., Patience Lehrman of Philadelphia, Pa., Jeanne Manford of Queens, N.Y., Billy Mills of Fair Oaks, Calif., Terry Shima of Gaithersburg, Md., Harris Wofford of Washington, D.C., and Sandy Hook Elementary shooting victims Rachel Davino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseua, Mary Sherlach and Victoria Soto.
“It is my distinguished honor to award these individuals the 2012 Citizens Medal for their commitment to public service,” said President Obama. “Their selflessness and courage inspire us all to look for opportunities to better serve our communities and our country.”
The Citizens Medal was established in 1969 to recognize American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens. President Obama is recognizing Americans whose work has had a significant impact on their communities but may not have garnered national attention.
Nearly 6,000 nominations were sent in during 2012.
Dorman didn’t know who had nominated him until recently. One of MMIA’s biggest supporters, Nancy Hartley, was one of the first Dorman called when he got the news he would be honored.
He later found out it was Hartley that had nominated him. As major thanks, Dorman called the White House and asked to bring Hartley and her husband, John, to the ceremony as his guests. In all, Dorman will bring seven people to join in the momentous occasion: his wife, Tina Andrews; the Hartleys; MMIA Treasurer Keith McCombs and his wife, Julia; House Autry President and CEO Craig Hagood; IMRE Marketing representative Sarah Findle.
Nancy couldn’t be more excited for the event and proud of Dorman’s self-sacrifice that built the MMIA organization.
“He saw a need and he filled it,” she said. “He’s passionate about it and it’s contagious.”
Nancy received the nomination form from her son-in-law and sent it in last April. She didn’t think anything had come of it until she got the call from Dorman last week.
Nancy first befriended Dorman at the First United Methodist Church of Fuquay-Varina where they both attend. They worked together on outreach events. When MMIA was founded, Nancy jumped in to help Dorman right away. She pulled together a baby shower at the church for a veteran’s wife and she has helped pack many care packages to send to troops abroad. John Hartley helps with the annual golf tournament.
Nancy has seen the organization grow exponentially from the Memorial and Veterans Day breakfasts that Dorman started with; the outpouring of financial donations and volunteer hours given by individuals, churches and businesses has been amazing.
“That’s been the story from the beginning,” she said. “It’s God given.”
In 2011, nearly $140,000 came to MMIA in donations. Volunteers completed about $980,000 in service. In the last five years, the organization has shipped more than 9,700 care packages to service men and women in combat areas, helped more than 6,000 homeless veterans and sponsored military children to attend 26 summer camps. During the holidays, the organization has assisted 57 military and veteran families for Operation Rescue Christmas and provided Thanksgiving meals to 47 families.
More than 100 low income military and veteran families have received housing assistance and more than 100 patriotic quilts have been given to injured service members by MMIA. The organization also has provided medical equipment to 63 veterans.
Yet, the need grows every day as more heroes come home with injuries and older veterans face their own struggles. Many hope the recognition will bring in more donations for MMIA’s cause.
Currently, Dorman has 24 unfunded projects on his desk and got another call for assistance Monday. He would love to get to a place financially where the organization had money in the bank waiting and ready when calls for help arrive.
“Then I could help veterans in a more timely manner,” Dorman said.
Although Dorman envisioned a lot of growth for MMIA when he first started the organization, he never expected the national recognition that he and the organization have received.
Now, he hopes to further awareness of MMIA among Senators and Congress members that he plans to meet later this week, including Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam veteran and POW.
Compared to other organizations that help veterans, MMIA provides assistance to veterans from WWII to present service men and women.
“There are many veterans that need assistance,” Dorman said, “not just the ones coming home today.”
But the key is finding the financial backing. And Dorman has faith the donations will continue to roll in.
“One day, somebody’s going to say, ‘I can change the way this organization is working,’” Dorman said. “That day will come.”
Dorman is originally from Lumberton, N.C. He moved to Fuquay-Varina with his family in 1979 and lived in town for four days before joining the U.S. Coast Guard. He moved back to the area in 1999.
Find out more about the other 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal recipients at www.fuquay-varinaindependent.com.
Contact Kelly Griffith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-552-5675.