Mike Criscillis joined the Army Reserve when he was 17, and retired in 2010 at the age of 60, with the rank of Command Sergeant Major. His family experienced discrimination due to their Greek origin, and in West Virginia they were told that they had to live on the other side of the bridge, which was home to Poles, Italians as well as Greeks. He has had a fascinating career, and has prayerfully concluded that it is time to step up and serve again; this time with the intention of filling the seat in the Alabama House vacated by the recent passing of Dan Williams.
A lifelong Conservative, Mike has had the privilege of serving under such Generals as Colin Powell, and General Edwin Burba. He describes them as being “some of the best and the brightest.” He has a son who is a Wounded Warrior, and who served 11 tours in Afghanistan. Mike worked in the Pentagon off and on special projects from 1993-2009, and was thankfully not present in the building on 9/11.
He was Non-Commission Officer in Charge, (NCOIC) for the 125th U.S. Army Reserve Command for all Honor Guard events, and burial details. During the Reagan Administration, he researched and oversaw protocol for an event in Tennessee where the Commander in Chief was present. He also had to make sure protocol was proper for several events attended by dignitaries and heads of state. He oversaw the 125th Army Reserve Command Honor Guard duty at Opryland, of all places.
However, his “baby,” that is, the thing he enjoyed the most, was Family Readiness, the department that does the greatest amount of work to support families before and during the time their loved ones are away on deployments, and helps with their return to military or civilian life. That was his focus during Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
Much of what he had to oversee was logistics, and currently is a Captain in the Civil Air Patrol. His main job in that capacity is emergency management. However, he also did a one year stint in military intelligence, in Army Reserve Command. Additionally, he told me, he “has a strong background in personnel.”
He ended his military and civil service career with two designations: Command Sergeant Major and GS 14, which is unusual, and then coached varsity football as well as taught at a private Christian school in the Atlanta area for 3 years. His subjects were history and Bible.
He and his wife Shirley moved to Athens in 2013, and he has been active as a volunteer at the Veterans’ Museum. He is also on the Museum’s Board of Directors. We talked about the fact that there are a number of good men who are running for the 5th District seat, so what is it that he brings to the table that would make me want to vote for him?
“First of all, I am not a politician,” he said. “I have roots in Knoxville and Huntsville, and I watched the town of McDonough lose its small town charm because it didn’t handle growth very well. I want to help Athens with what I learned from that situation,” he said. He mentioned that while he doesn’t “have all the answers, I think outside the box. When I was in the Department of Army, I found ways to save the military millions of dollars while restoring an active Army base that also had a lot of historical value. I got an award for it.” He also managed an 18.5 million dollar budget for the National Infantry Museum.
He went on to say, “Everybody across the SE is struggling—farmers, kids, senior citizens who work at McDonald’s, etc, and I am willing to work for the people to find answers. I am a problem solver.” He attended the Senior Executive for Federal Budget and Execution of Federal Budget, and is very familiar with working all aspects of budgets involving millions of dollars. He had to go take an intensive Federal law course in order to get his certification for the Executive position. He made me chuckle when he said, “I need to lose weight and need to trim, and so does Montgomery. You have to balance your budget, and live within your means. And, we need our fair share from Montgomery.” He told me, “We need a fresh face in Montgomery,” he said, “and I am not a rubber stamp. I believe in asking this question: ‘How will what you want to do affect the community, businesses and individual families?’”
If this sounds like the kind of guy you want to represent you in the 5th District of the Alabama House of Representatives, then vote for Mike Criscillis on September 29th.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner