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My name is Matt “Coach” Wheeler, a 17 year (and still active) Army Vet, and I just wanted to

take a few moments to introduce myself to you all. In September of 2005, I decided that I had enough of sitting atop of 40 foot ladders, redoing aluminum siding on houses of the Chicagoland suburbs. The idea of continuing into college just didn’t set right with me, and I decided that I needed to embark on an adventure to find myself, and Uncle Sam picked up the phone when I called collect. 17 years later, I am still happy and blessed he decided to accept the charges.


Serving the United States Army these past 17 years, I have had the distinct opportunity to not only serve but also lead some of the nation’s finest individuals in some of the greatest organizations in the Army. For my first stop, I was dragged by my collar over the pond, to Germany, where I fought to leave for 3 1/2 years. I was glad when I found out that I would be able to leave, but a tropical oasis wasn’t in my future, although there was plenty of sand

for me to get lost in.


When I returned from Iraq and returned to Germany, I was able to meet the

woman who I have called my rock and ride or die, Amanda, who blessed me with 3 of the most diligent children that this world has seen to date. Kicking and screaming I was then able to spend 5 amazing years at THE center of the universe, Fort Bragg, where I served as a Team Leader and Squad Leader in the only Airborne Military Police BN in the Army. I spent those 5 years completely invested in not only Soldiers, but friendships, children, baseball teams and the camaraderie that solidified the foundation which eventually led us to find Camp Comrade (we’ll get there later). I’m still known by many kids (some now in college) and their parents (some now retired empty nesters) as Coach/Uncle Matt.


Well the Army decided that I was having just too much fun Back At Bragg, and decided that I would make a pitstop in Korea, before allowing me to fulfill my most satisfying and rewarding assignment as to date, as a Drill Sergeant in the middle of nowhere at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. For just shy of 3 years, I watched America’s sons and daughters, (you) come in and go out, wave after wave. The duty wasn’t to be able to yell and scream (as fun as it is to not have a voice sometimes), but to enhance the experience of these civilians, who were in the exact same boat as I was 12 years earlier.


After graduating my 6 th and final class of 200+ Soldiers, and pushing them into the Operational Army, Amanda and I found our next home, nestled in Colorado Springs, CO. As I would venture on my 45 minute drive to work every morning, seeing the horrendous sight of an immaculate sunrise/sunset over the Rocky Mountains, the Army knew that I had enough on my plate, and gave me a break, as they asked me as a Platoon Sergeant, if I would voluntarily deploy 42 Soldiers to Germany in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

Of course, I could not deny this simple request; I mean who wants to see the mountains EVERY day?


When I returned, I was then placed in one of the biggest and busiest installations the Army has ever seen; Fort Knox KY, where I am once again coaching baseball and softball teams. I am currently serving as the Battalion Operations NCOIC as a partnership unit, as coaches and mentors for our Army Reserves partners throughout the country. Here I will stay for a few more months, until I am asked to fulfill my biggest and, more importantly, final assignment as a Military Police Company First Sergeant. Many, many bottles of bourbon selflessly sacrificed themselves, in order to conceptualize, develop and place

Camp Comrade into action.

My Why

Why Camp Comrade? - If you were reading, you see that a lot of my assignments (all chosen by myself –
really), I am a person who strives to coach and mentor and lead – its in my blood and cant be contained.
This doesn’t only encompass Soldiers in the field, garrison or deployed environments, but also coaching
kids and parents, through my absolute and obsessive love for baseball. We all know that coaching and
mentoring isn’t just about the teaching portion, but the listening, the feedback, the desire to grow and
be helped, and actioning those desires.


The sad fact though, is regardless of the amount of coaching and mentoring I was able to give to Soldiers and children, I struggled for years, in building that mentorship for myself. Like many Veterans, I struggled (and continue to do so) with reaching out for that help, or at least being able to allow myself to voice my opinions and concerns when it comes to the way I have and the way I am feeling. Struggles like this are commonplace in the culture that we all have
lived in, at some point in time, in the military. For many, it’s the fear of losing what we care so deeply for
after reaching out and becoming vulnerable, that enables us to suffer in silence. I didn’t want to speak
to the Army about it, because of fear of my career; nor my wife and children for the fear of failing them
as the protector and provider. The thought of them wondering “how can he protect us, when he can’t
protect or care for himself” has caused more sleepless hours than I care to count or think about.


The basis to Camp Comrade, my why, is that I felt that I had no haven to allow myself to think, wonder, be
sad and vulnerable. And I wanted a solution. I couldn’t find a place, so I’ll just make my own. This
concept, coupled with the thoughts of Wes, Sarah and Jared, countless hours, days, weeks and months
on a ball field, Texas Christmas and Colorado Thanksgiving trips, along with many beers and even more
bottles of bourbon; Camp Comrade was born. But we had to do it bigger and better than any other
program that’s out there. We had to realize that its not only us as Vets, but our families, who share the
desire to serve and belong to something that is bigger than themselves; to still have a sense of purpose
in their lives (after all, they were there the whole time too, weren’t they?)


One day served or 34 years of service, and anything in between or beyond, they belong here, with us, with their Comrades. Regardless of what jungle or desert you fought upon, or if you never left the Greatest country in this world; a Vet is a Vet, and a brother is a brother, a sister is a sister, and family my friends… is family. I cannot wait to
see each and every one of you there, over and over again. To be able to shake your hand, look you in the
eye, and truly thank you for what you have done. To tell your families that, whether they like it or not,
they now have a bunch of new family members there for them. I look forward to sitting around a fire, or
on the bank of a river, with smile on your face and maybe even a drink in your hand, as we get through
the hard times, and set forth to create better times.

Contact Matt

I'm always looking for new and exciting opportunities. Let's connect.


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