MICHAEL J. BROOKS, Army, 1SG (ret)
Michael (Mike) was born in Indiana, grew up in Glen Ellyn, Il, and enlisted in the Army in 1980. He served for two years as a Cavalry Scout, with Duty at the Headquarters of 1/10th Cavalry, in personnel administration and did very well in that role. Michael became promotable to SGT, and wanted to stay in the Army but not as a 19D. He reenlisted as a 27E-Tow/Dragon Electronic Repair and served in Maintenance and Logistics roles for the rest of his career, which included a tour in Peoria as a recruiter, Operations Sergeant for an Airborne Forward Support BN, and First Sergeant for a Maintenance and Supply Company.
His marriage of 41 years to Christine began as a Private E2 in December of 1980. They have three children, all with college degrees and professional careers. They currently live in Chester, VA. Mike had two bad accidents while parachuting with the 82nd Airborne Division and a series of head injuries while cycling in 2017. He went for years without proper medical care for mental health issues that accompany brain injuries. Mike said, “Christine deserves accolades, praise and esteem for managing all family matters, while I did what I could to be the breadwinner.”
After his retirement from the Army in 2001, Mike worked at Honeywell as a supervisor in their Nylon production plant for three years. He then purchased a furniture repair franchise and after learning and applying the skills for several years was awarded the distinction of a Master Craftsman. He sold the business after 10 years and worked as a logistics planner with Coca-Cola for three years and then at GE Power until a TBI (traumatic brain injury) from a bicycle accident forced his departure.
During all this time Mike hid a deep depression from everyone, including his family. Mike said, “Looking back, this deep depression colored every relationship, every job. I looked like a happy guy, but inside was very dark, never to be spoken about. Each job after the first had a common denominator… there were times when I was about explode, I would take an unplanned week off. Go back to and muddle through until I became overwhelmed again.”
During recovery from his head injuries in 2018, Mike finally took full advantage of mental health counseling. The road began to smooth. He was given a tricycle in 2019 from VA Adaptive sports that has provided wonderful relief and much happiness. In 2020 Mike received a treatment protocol, Trans-cranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). TMS was proposed because SSRI’s did not work and worsened his depression. Mike had TMS treatments in 2020 and some in 2021 and is currently in remission.
Mike’s Cycling Accomplishments: 2021 Mid-Atlantic Paracycling Champion – Recumbent; Rode across Iowa, 457 miles , 7 days, RAGBRAI 2021; 7000 miles since Aug 2019.