Coming Back Home

  • Published
  • By Capt. Anthony L. Bucci
  • 174th Fighter Wing
Mr. Michael A. Pettinelli II was recently hired as the Director of Psychological Health for the 174th Fighter Wing as part of the Air National Guard Psychological Health Program. This program was designed in response to a recommendation by the Department of Defense Mental Health Task force to advocate, promote and guide Air National Guard members and their families by supporting psychological fitness for operational readiness.

He was looking for a way to once again serve the 174th FW and always maintained a strong relationship with his fellow firefighters, Jeff Chrissley and Ed Daley. It was because of this strong relationship that he heard about this unique and exciting opportunity at the 174th FW, it was an opportunity he had hoped for. He told me that when he read the job announcement he felt that he was a perfect candidate for the position, so he sent his resume to Optimization Consulting, Inc. the company managing this program for the DoD

"For me this was a great opportunity, while I no longer wear the uniform I wanted to come back to the 174th FW family", said Pettinelli. He went on to say, "The 174th FW was there for me when I came off active duty in giving me the opportunity to help myself, so this was my way of giving back to the men and women of the unit".

Mike is originally from Rome, NY and served in the United States Air Force on active duty from June 1999 until April 2004 and is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Southern Watch. Mike was also a member of the U.S. Air National Guard 174th Fighter Wing in Syracuse, New York from 2004 to 2007 and was attached to the 174th Civil Engineering Squadron as a Firefighter both as a traditional Guardsman and as a state employee.

"I am focused on the present and on the well-being of every airman out here performing this very important mission. I am here to assist in force protection, what I mean by that is assisting in the well being of each airman who is performing this very critical task", said Pettinelli.

Mike completed his undergraduate studies at Columbia College earning a Baccalaureate degree in Psychology in 2006. In 2008, he obtained his Masters of Social Work from Syracuse University while focusing on Veterans issues with regard to reintegration and transition and is currently pursing at Masters in Health Studies and Health Promotion at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa.

In September 2008 he was hired as a full time social worker with the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Readjustment Counselor at the Watertown Vet Center where he provided clinical counseling and referrals to combat veterans and their families. He is currently licensed as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and as a Licensed Master Social Worker in Delaware and New York respectively and has been a member of the National Association of Social Workers since 2007.

Mike has participated in numerous Yellow Ribbon events in New York State providing initial mental health assessment and referral to Guard members and their dependents. In 2008 he was a guest speaker at the NYS Traumatic Brain Injury Conference in Alexandria Bay, NY focusing on clinical work with clients diagnosed with TBI. In 2007 he was a key organizer and panel moderator for the Syracuse University School of Social Work James L. Stone Policy Symposium focusing on availability of services for returning Veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has also acted as an independent consultant for Onondaga County Mental Health Association spearheading a Veteran's Outreach initiative helping to link returning veterans with mental health care.

Mike's wife Christina and their three children were very instrumental in his ability to pursue this opportunity. He said it was their support that made this long journey possible and gave him the opportunity to come back to his "family" at the 174th Fighter Wing.

Founded in 2005, Optimization Consulting, Inc.'s beginnings were marked by the determination and enthusiasm that has become the company's trademark over five years later. OCI's leadership began pursuing key projects, the first being a Healthcare Recruiting contract for the Air National Guard, which the company holds to this day. Being a small service disabled veteran-owned business made OCI the premier choice for government agencies in dire need of managed services - a factor that has since garnered OCI the prestigious "Vendor of Choice" qualification.