University of Connecticut

Mike Zacchea

Mike Zacchea was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1990. He served as a forward observer and platoon commander, deploying to Somalia for Operation Restore Hope and to Haiti for Operation Support Democracy. In March 2004, as a major, he deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom II. His team’s mission was to build, train, and lead in combat the first Iraqi army battalion trained by the US military. During this time, the battalion participated in Operation Phantom Fury, the 2nd Battle of Fallujah. During the battle, Mike was wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade, but declined to be medically evacuated.

Mike’s military awards include the Bronze Star Medal for Valor (with gold star in lieu of 2nd award), the Purple Heart Medal, a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, and numerous unit and campaign awards. Mike was also the first and at the time only American recognized by the Iraqi government by the Order of the Lion of Babylon. As a result of his wounds, Mike was medically retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Mike’s education includes an MBA from the University of Connecticut, an MA in Organizational Dynamics from Hawaii Pacific University, and a BA from the University of Notre Dame. He is the Program Director of the University of Connecticut Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities.

He is also involved in the creation of ConnectVets, Inc., a non-profit organization of veteran-owned businesses in the state of CT. He was appointed to a multi-agency cross-disciplinary working group chaired by the Commissioner of the CT Dept of Veterans Affairs to align veteran education, job-training, and workforce re-entry issues. The Small Business Administration recognized Mike as the 2011-12 Veterans Business Champion. Mike is the author of “Veteran’s Advocacy: the Fight for Social Justice and Healing Through Activism” in Healing War Trauma: A Handbook of Creative Approaches (Routledge: 2013).

Mike has been featured in several documentaries and books about returning veterans, and has been interviewed in numerous national media venues discussing the war and related issues. He continues to be active in veterans affairs and Iraqi refugee affairs. Mike lives in Brookfield CT with his wife and infant son.