Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Michael's Story

I had the honor and the opportunity to sit down with Michael Spinnato for an interview about his life in and out of the military. It was quite revealing.

He is a UMass-Boston student who was in the Marines. He has been involved in several anti-war demonstrations, and has been a member of the Iraq Veterans Against War (IVAW).

Mr. Spinnato is a 26 year old man who is in a loving relationship. He has no children and no pets. When I asked him if the war has affected his family in any way he said with a heavy heart that "they are in denial of the war and the reality of war."

He said that the reality is that there really is a war going on and that we should all be aware of it.

Sadly, they do not bring him any comfort. Writing to his girlfriend was his sole source of comfort and kept him going. She was the first person he wanted to see when he got home.

Mr. Spinnato served in the Marine Corps from 2003 to 2007. He spent around three years in North Carolina until the Navy transported him across the Atlantic Ocean for deployment in Iraq.

In 2005 he went to Iraq with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. His base was attacked several times by mortars, and his convoys were attacked regularly by improvised explosive devices (IEDs). He lost three men in an IED attack. This was absolutely devastating.

He was a Humvee and 7-ton driver, but he mostly manned a machine gun for convoy security. He was promoted four times to become sergeant and despite all of the danger and trauma Mr. Spinnato does not suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and was not wounded. He was very modest about receiving medals; he said, "they were nothing exciting.”

When I asked Mr. Spinnato what made him decide to join the service he told me that he was heavily influenced by 9/11, as were a lot of veterans.

He told me that people should not join the military as a way to solve their personal problems, and he wants others to know what they are getting into.

He has met Marines who “deny the realities of our military presence around the world.” I was told that the reality is that there is a war despite the people who behave like ostriches. He has also met Marines who think that we are “Imperial and we should crush whoever we want.”

I asked Mr. Spinnato how he was treated by the government once he got home and he told me that his only interaction has been with the Veteran's Administration (VA) hospital and that that has been fine.

Although Mr. Spinnato admits to having made adjustments he is well and is going to UMass on the GI bill. When asked what he wanted to do as a career after graduation he told me in three words “Become a doctor.”

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