The new leader of a local organization that helps post-9/11 veterans fighting to get back on their feet back home is no stranger to battle.
Mike Durkee, a Palm Beach County native and Army veteran, is the new executive director of Wounded Warriors of South Florida, according to an email update the nonprofit sent this morning. Wounded Warriors of South Florida has no affiliation with the national Wounded Warrior Project.
Wounded Warrior Project, which neither gives money to or gets money from Wounded Warriors of South Florida, has come under scrutiny after national news organizations published detailed reports of lavish spending on its employees. Wounded Warrior Project’s directors fired two top executives earlier this month, CBS News reported.
Wounded Warriors of South Florida, the unaffiliated local group, provides temporary emergency financial assistance to veterans from Orlando to Melbourne, south to the Keys, west to Naples and north to the Tampa Bay area.
Durkee served in the Army for 11 years, deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to his bio. Here’s what he shared in his introduction.
“I remember a particular incident like it was yesterday. I was on a MSR (Main Supply Route) in an area called the Triangle of Death, Baghdad. It got its name from the number of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Device) that were used against our convoys. It was evening when our convoy left the safety of our compound to bring supplies to our neighboring FOB (forward operating base). Ten minutes into our route we heard and saw an explosion. The HMVV in front of us got hit by an IED. The convoy stopped immediately and moved to a defensive posture, ready for an ambush. Unfortunately, we took on casualties that night.”
Durkee supported NATO forces in Afghanistan during a nine-month deployment in 2012-2013, according to his bio. He was a Chinook helicopter pilot, flying more than 68 missions.
He met people from Wounded Warriors of South Florida at an event at PGA National in November 2014 and drove to the office in Lake Park the next day to tell his predecessor, Howard Golin, he wanted to organize a 5K run. The event in October 2015 raised almost $19,000.