One community member’s regard for freedom particularly stands out. Undoubtedly, among many others, one of Sergeant Mike McFadden’s gifts is his dedication, commitment and ultimate service to the protection of the American people.
McFadden, a Winter Garden resident, spent a collective total of three years deployed in Iraq as a member of the United States Army. He served with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, one of the U.S. Army’s elite units.
“The name American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations,” President George Washington stated in his 1796 Farewell Address. McFadden has walked in this standard long before he ever chose to become a soldier. At a young age, he was set on serving his country and aspired to make a positive impact.
“I looked forward to the adventure, challenge, patriotism and being part of something so large,” he says.
During deployment, McFadden’s role in special operations meant that he would possibly go weeks without having the opportunity to communicate with his family. He remembers that he tried to keep in contact with his loved ones as often as he could, and when they did get to talk, their conversations centered on stories from home instead of his accounts of war.
“I didn’t go into detail of what I was doing in Iraq at the time,” he says. “I was more concerned about how they were doing and listening to their updates.”
Though he and his wife Jamie do not have children, McFadden gives credit to soldiers who serve that do have children. He says deployment for over a year at time with children at home would be extremely challenging.
McFadden’s military position in the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force is another illustration of his patriotic vigor. According to the Unites States Army website, a Special Forces soldier must complete several rigorous training courses to achieve a position. This means arduous training exercises and sharp cognitive skills are necessary.
“When I reflect on my favorite moments, I think about the precise and lengthy training that would allow for us to be successful on our missions,” McFadden says. “Seeing my team execute successfully on the battlefield was very rewarding.”
Relationships Away and at Home
Although each deployment was different, as each had a different mission at hand, one thing remained consistent: the profound connections developed between soldiers working together. Experiencing scary moments with others going through similar situations creates a special type of relationship.
“The bonds you create with fellow veterans that you served with are incredible,” McFadden says.
He explains that even, “bonds with veterans versus civilians are different. It may take years to experience as many emotions, successes, failures and senses of accomplishment with a civilian friend. However, that can be accomplished in days or weeks on a deployment. Experiences overseas are much more intense, whether [they are] good or bad.”
He points out that even if soldiers didn’t serve directly with one another, just the knowledge that both are veterans provides an instant patriotic bond.
It’s also important to take the time to remember and honor those who didn’t make it back home as well as their families. Bereavement officials note that for every active military member lost, an average of 10 others are deeply impacted.
According to dosomething.org, in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, an estimated 68,360 family members have been significantly affected by the loss of a loved one. As is the case with many soldiers, McFadden also experienced the loss of fellow troops and friends while deployed overseas.
“That is the hardest part of it all,” he says. “I am proud to have served with such selfless individuals who passionately served their country.”
When McFadden reflects on the eight years that he dedicated to his country, he feels the joy that comes from knowing he served alongside like-minded people who were also dedicated to protecting the freedoms of the American people. Even in the tough moments, this knowledge is what McFadden says is one of the greatest things about being in the military.
Bringing Patriotism to Business
Today, McFadden’s deep sense of American pride continues to shine bright. He even reflected his sense of patriotism in his business name, Hero Inspection Services. His military connections run deep, pouring into this business where he serves as an affiliate with Homes for Heroes, a nonprofit organization that helps local heroes achieve home ownership and avoid foreclosure.
“Homes for Heroes is a great organization,” McFadden says, noting that he and his wife actually used the organization to help them purchase a home as well.
Being an affiliate with Homes for Heroes allows McFadden to help others such as military personnel, firefighters and law enforcement officers, who serve their nation and their communities every day, achieve real estate goals with significant savings. He enjoys that his work allows for him to be within a community of those who are also dedicated to helping and protecting others, both locally and throughout the country.
McFadden has no regrets for his decision to serve and says he would encourage others to join the armed forces as well. He does this by sharing his story of when he was young and motivated. Though it was challenging and scary at times, McFadden says the personal and professional benefits gained by being in the military can be used throughout an entire lifetime.
“I will forever hold a deep sense of American pride and be thankful for my experiences while serving,” he says.