So, my name is Michael Kilano, went into the Marine Corps in ‘99, got out in ‘03. I was a field radio operator as a combat Marine, deployed March 20th of 2003, and we did our job and we pulled out.
So, four years, one month, and five days I served, it was the best time of my life, except going into combat, but it was a wonderful experience either way.
Getting out was very difficult; I didn’t realize I had PTSD, then all of these things started surfacing and it got to a point to where I was very low, very anxious, just at one point I wanted to end it all. And I ended up in the VA hospital and then Rob Cornicelli – I never met this guy in my life, didn’t even hear about him and then I needed something with my car fixed so I could get out and get back to work – and this guy shows up to visit me at the VA and that was one of the first times in a very long time that I felt somebody looking out for me, that there was a light at the end of the tunnel; someone that had my back when I was in the Marine Corp, like just the same thing to show me the light. So when I told Captain Cornicelli my situation, he didn’t hesitate, he jumped into it and made it to where my car was fully functional and I was able to get back and forth to work.
Still, as a Marine, I don’t like to ask or tell anybody that I’m hurting or suffering or what-have-you, but I didn’t really have to say much, he kind of knew and really backed me up. I then, when I got out and was back and forth to work, being at the VA for so long all these bills and insurance and all this crazy stuff was happening – and I have kids, I have four kids, and Christmas was coming on – and again I guess I’m a prideful Marine, don’t want to ask for anything, and he said: “you know, bring your kids, Santa is gonna give you something to give under the tree.” So as a dad and as a Marine, I felt very worthless at the time, but yet the love, the care that he showed, and the Veteran’s Recovery Coalition really stepped up and really walked me and talked me through the things that I’m dealing with.
We need more people like him, honestly. People that care, are going to fight for people. This world is crazy and sometimes it can be difficult, dealing with PTSD and dealing with the service-connected stuff that I have. Sometimes we all need back up once in a while and he definitely, to this day, continues to check up on me and my family and inviting me to do the donations, the clothing donation, and the food drive, and every opportunity I get I got to give back as well.
We need more patriots, more heroes like him, and someone that is going to get the job done; ‘cause in my opinion, the government left us veterans hanging and is not, turned their back, I should say turned their back. But this guy here, he stepped up and is taking charge and doing the right thing for anybody. Look at me, I mean I didn’t know this guy or he didn’t know me from a hole in the wall. It didn't matter what race, what religion, the fact that I was a combat veteran, he took that in his heart and really looked out.
I owe a great deal of gratitude to Rob Cornicelli and the Veteran Recovery Coalition for helping me get through – continuously past and present – the tough times that I face. And it makes me want to be better and really to help other people as well, other veterans that are in need or in my situation.