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USMC Veteran
SHARE Military Initiative

Serving others is in Michael Cataldi’s DNA. His grandfather and his uncles were Marines, and he has always carried that pride. But Michael says when he saw the footage of the planes hitting the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, he felt the overwhelming call to serve his country. At just 18, he joined the Marine Corps.


In 2004, during his first tour in Iraq, he started experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but was not officially diagnosed. Michael felt detached and was losing sleep after he witnessed a helicopter crash involving multiple marines and sailors. His psychiatrist prescribed medication, but Michael still struggled.


Before Michael was re-deployed to Iraq, he was finally diagnosed with PTSD. Things got worse as Michael transitioned out of the Marine Corps and back to civilian life. Michael abused alcohol and experienced homelessness before moving in with his mother and meeting his wife in 2014. In 2015, he sustained another traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a moped crash that resulted in a medically induced coma. His medical team took him off his medication, which led to intense depression.


Michael and his wife knew it was time to do something when his depression led him to consider suicide. The couple called Semper Fi and America’s Fund, and a representative visited and connected him with Shepherd Center’s SHARE Military Initiative.


While Michael attended SHARE, he learned the positive effect of exercise on his mental and physical health.


“SHARE helped pull me out of the deepest darkest hole,” says Michael. “Before SHARE, I didn’t do anything. I didn’t care about what I ate or drank or if I moved my body. Then I was go, go, go. SHARE helped me find a middle road, and they continue to provide care. I’m so grateful.”


The SHARE team continued to help Michael develop tools to mitigate symptoms of PTSD and identify his core values, which helping others.


“I’ve got purpose,” he says. “I’ve got a place in this world, running marathons, helping animals, and helping other people. If sharing my story helps someone else get through the same situation, then it’s worth it.”

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