WASHINGTON (WTNH) — One marine from Connecticut will be attending Tuesday night’s ‘State of the Union’ in person. After serving for more than a decade, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Zacchea is making veterans’ issues his focus.
Lieutenant Colonel Zacchea founded the only veteran’s organization registered to lobby in the State General Assembly — it’s called the “Connecticut Veteran’s Chamber of Commerce.”
He also founded the UConn entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans with disabilities. The marine found his passion for veterans when he enrolled in the MBA program at UConn. “We did a lot to help square away UConn for veterans and, over the past three years, UConn has been named a top veteran-friendly school in the country,” said Zacchea.
Tuesday night, Zacchea will attend the State of the Union, as a guest of Sen. Richard Blumenthal. “He’s [Zacchea] just a mentor, a teacher, a patriot, and a model of public service for me and so many others and I’m really excited he’s going to be in the gallery,” said Sen. Blumenthal.
On Veteran’s Day 2004, Lt. Col. Zacchea was hurt in the battle to capture Fallujah, as his humvee tried to get through tight streets, “A RPG came out and I covered the other three marines as they were going to cover, but I got blown up by a rocket propelled grenade,” Zacchea explained.
Badly injured, he refused to leave on a rescue helicopter and instead continued to fight.
The Lieutenant Colonel has a number of awards, including a Bronze Star with Valor and a Purple Heart. He’s now focused on the hundreds of thousands of veterans who will leave active service in the next few years. “There should be a zero-tolerance policy for veterans homelessness, and there should be a zero-tolerance policy for veteran unemployment. There’s no reason for us to accept that,” he said.
Zacchea says attending Tuesday night’s address is something he always has wanted to do.