Michael Cumming

Founder and Chair, Board of Directors

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What is your military background?

I joined the Marine Corps in 2000 right out of high school.  I served for four years as an infantryman at NSB Bangor and Camp Pendleton.  In 2004 I transferred over to the Army where I spent another 7 ½ years at Fort Hood, TX.  I served on multiple combat deployments to Iraq.  In 2011, I left active duty in pursuit of a degree in Adventure and Outdoor Programs from the University of Utah and became a civil affairs reservist which is where I am currently serving.

How did you become involved in OCO, and what keeps you here?

In August 2013, I did an internship for my bachelor's degree at the University of Utah.  After discussing my goals and desires to serve veterans we decided for my internship that I would create a climbing program for veterans.  Based on my own experiences after leaving active duty and watching the experiences of many of my fellow veterans I wanted to be there and help my fellow veterans any way I could.  I found the best way I could do this was through climbing.  Operation Climb On was designed to use climbing and nature as therapeutic tools to help build camaraderie, trust and promote healthy lifestyles within the veteran community.  I continue to work with Operation Climb On because I believe completely in the mission of the program, I love working with veterans and their families, and I have seen firsthand the impact the program can have on people’s lives.

What affect has climbing had on your own life?

Climbing has had a huge impact on my life.  It was a major factor in helping me deal with a lot of issues I was facing when I first left active duty.  Climbing has given me a healthy outlet to relieve stress and has also given me a hobby that I can focus on and enjoy year-round. 

Where is the place you most call home?

I am torn between two places that feel like home to me.  I grew up in the Seattle area and will always think of it as home.  However, since I moved to Utah in 2011 I have fallen in love with the state and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else now.

If you could go on a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do?

If I could go on a trip anywhere in the world it would be to Norway.  It has been a dream of mine to explore the fjords and see the Northern Lights there.