Catching Up with Mike Schindler, 2011 Hero Award Winner

Empowering Military Families – Little did Mike Schindler know that turning down an acting scholarship to join the U.S. Navy would eventually lead to his founding Operation Military Family (OMF), a company that has been instrumental in helping thousands of service members, Veterans, and military families nationwide. “The spouses are incredible,” says Mike. “They, too, have been fighting this war – behind the scenes.”

Through seminars, mobile web technology, and partnerships with other companies and corporations, the powerhouse team at OMF seeks to bring military divorce, suicide, and employment rates to a grinding halt as well as reduce military poverty and incidences of domestic violence. At seminars, “Each person writes two reasons why they married their spouse on one side of a three-by-five card,” explains Mike, who is a certified marriage coach. “We say, ‘There will be days when you’ll need to pull that card out and remind yourself why you married that person!’”

Bringing America to the Veterans
According to Mike, problems such as high unemployment rates and poverty among Veterans arise as a result of a failed transition process back to life outside a warzone. “We have highly qualified, highly skilled Veterans, but they need a bridge,” he adds. “Fewer than 50% of Veterans eligible for benefits don’t take advantage of them.”

In an attempt to “bring America to the Veterans,” OMF created the Veterans App (VAPP), which can be accessed from any smartphone or computer. “We’re a concierge service,” explains Mike, who cites the locating of a PTSD clinician as an example of a VAPP function. “We eliminate the white noise and match them to the resources they need based on profile, need, and location.”

A Very Pleasant Surprise
In December of last year, Amway presented Mike with the 2011 Amway Hero Award for patriotism and a check for $10,000. “We were blown away … I just broke down in tears,” says Mike. “I’ve never been so proud to have an association with a company.”

Only a month later, OMF put the award money to very good use in launching the Merchant Military Veterans Promotions (MVP) Network in Edmonds, WA. By joining MVP, merchants may offer year-round discounts and promotions to their Veteran customers. “It goes beyond money,” explains Mike.  “It’s an acknowledgement of their service.” Currently, mayors of nine different cities are rallying business communities and citizens in proclaiming 2012 the year of Military Veterans Promotions. (http://marysville.civicweb.net/FileStorage/7177088073904F958CF01AFDA36D1FE4-WorkspaceItem%20D.pdf)

Life With Purpose
Mike gives much credit to his mentors and to his wife, Keri, for her brilliance that has contributed to OMF’s success, and for her resilience. “We’ve never allowed our circumstances define our relationship,” shares Mike. “We’ve always kept our sense of humor.”

Much of Mike and OMF’s success he also attributes to attitude and knowing his purpose. “My family’s mission statement is to add value to people’s lives … If you ask my 5- and 8-year-old daughters (Reilley and Taylor, respectively), even they’ll tell you what it means to be a Schindler.

“My question to readers out there is, ‘What does it mean to be who you are?’”

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