Mike Mason - The Villages, Florida
Mr. Mason enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1970 and served as a Combat Medic in the Republic of Vietnam. He was wounded on Sept. 28th, 1971 at Fire Base Pace on the Cambodian border in a heroic action, which earned him the Bronze Star with Valor. After the military, served as Senior Vice Commander of the VFW of Rock Falls, IL, assisted Veterans in need and supported countless Veteran functions throughout Polk County, as DVOP, in Winter Haven, FL, worked to help Veterans attain employment, providing resume updates, mock interviews, and provided proper clothing. He succeeded in acquiring back to back $30,000 Labor Department grants based on his work as the DVOP Due to Mike developing a "Soft Exit" report Polk County rose from 67th place in the state of Florida to 9th place. Mike was recognized in 2011 by the American Legion as the Outstanding DVOP presenting him with the "Annual National Employment Service Award".
He was recognized by the American Legion for "Outstanding Support for the Children and Youth" programs. Mr. Mason received the Outstanding Service and Assistance Award for American Legion Programs. Mr. Mason was awarded the "National Commander's Award" for 2013 for MOPH and was instrumental in declaring all 17 municipalities in Polk County as "Purple Heart" cities and the county as a "Purple Heart" county.
As the County Director of Veteran Services, Mr. Mason took an office consisting of two Veteran Service Officers bringing in $90M per year to four Officers bringing in over $450M of VA benefits. lbis was due to a phenomenal feat of assisting over 60,000 Veterans in Polk County.
Mike's tireless dedication and devotion to Florida Veterans through health, entrepreneurship, employment, education, and partnership within the community by way of Homeless and At-Risk Veterans, and Veterans with Legal Issues. Particularly, his unparalleled persistence of the introduction of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy into Florida Veterans lives has gained critical acclaim. His "lifesaving" initiatives are a reality to Florida Veterans with the ultimate goal of reducing veteran suicides.
Mr. Mason's proactive role in Polk County Veterans Treatment court has identified veterans with qualifying criminal charges. He fostered a sense of veteran legal support while encouraging eligible veterans to enter into this problem-solving treatment court, saving many veterans from incarceration, thus enabling those with families to continue support at home.