Name:  Mike Donnelly

Branch of Service:  Army

Years Served:  May 1970 to January 1972 with 12 months in Vietnam. Twenty months total due to an early out program from President Nixon.

QL+ Challenge:  Scooter Lift, University of Cincinnati.  QL+ Mechanical Engineering Students are designing and building a Scooter Lift Device.  Mike has a rack that can be attached to his vehicle to transport his mobility scooter.  The rack is very heavy and cumbersome.  Because of this, he never uses his scooter.  He needs a device that will help him lift and attach the rack to his vehicle so that he can use his scooter when he leaves the house.  He can then use the device again when he gets home to remove the rack from his vehicle so that he can park his vehicle in his garage.

What was your job in the military?  I worked as a Supply Clerk for a Class 1 (Food Distribution) Point in Phu Bai, Vietnam. We supplied mess halls and infantry companies 3 meals a day 365 days a year.

What made you decide to join the Armed Forces?  I was Drafted. I then enlisted for Missile Repair Supply School to try to get out of going to Vietnam. After graduation, I received orders to go to Vietnam.

How were you injured?  I am legally Blind, secondary to Diabetes II, this stems from Agent Orange exposure.  I have a balance problem due to medicine from my heart disease also related to AO exposure.

After this happened, what was the most significant hurdle you overcame?  Not being able to drive. I got over it real fast.  Walking with walkers of all types and now walking with a cane.

What do you do for fun?  Any hobbies?  I work with the VFW. In the past, I would do woodworking and photography.  (Note:  Mike is the Post Commander for VFW Post 10380 in Green Township, Cincinnati, Ohio.  This Post is very active, and as Commander, it's probably like having a full-time job!)

What motivates you?  Veterans. I want every Veteran and their spouses to achieve everything they are eligible for. I hate to hear a Veteran or their spouse tell me they didn’t know they could have filed a claim for an illness.

How will the device the students are building improve your quality of life?  It will help me with mobility.  I will be able to go places I wouldn’t think of going to right now.

What has it been like so far, working with QL+ students and participating in the program?  It is an outstanding opportunity for me.  The students are very knowledgeable about the engineering of the device they are making for me.  Also, getting to know a couple of them from visits to my house has been enjoyable.  I know that the device they are making for me will be exactly what I need.

Any words of wisdom to our QL+ students?  Keep trying something new to keep moving forward.  Life changes and you will shift focus to something different.  Just keep following your instincts.  Also, remember failure is a learning opportunity and makes your next thing better.  Learn! I always say “The more you learn the more you earn."  Lastly, learning doesn’t have to be book learning.

If you were writing a book about yourself, what would be the title?  Keep Moving Forward.

The goal of our Challenger Salute is to honor the service and sacrifice our veterans and first responders have made for our country.  We are very grateful that our Challengers have agreed to participate in our program.  Their participation is helping us “build” better students.  They are providing our students with real-world experience and arming them with the tools they need to succeed once they graduate.