Michael Negrete is originally from South Texas near San Antonio, but spent his early childhood at Hahn, Air Force base Germany where his Father was stationed. He spent his teenage year back in South Texas where he eventually enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He now lives in Milford, NH with his wife Terry and their Jack Russell Terrier “Storm”. He also has a grown daughter Ashley, who also lives in NH.

Negrete choose to serve in the military having been raised with a great respect for the Armed Forces being from a family with a long history of military service. His grandfather was a retired Army Master Sergeant and 2 time Purple Heart recipient who served in Europe during WWI and WWII, his father a retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant served in country during the Vietnam War, his stepfather an Army Sergeant was stationed in Korea, and has many other extended family members who also served. Negrete initially enlisted in the Marine Corps, seeing them as an elite and respected military service whose uniform distinctly and recognizably sets them apart from the other services. He later transitioned his IRR to enlist in the Coast Guard collectively serving 10 years during the Cold War and Persian Gulf War eras.

Negrete served in the Marines as an 0351 Infantry Assaultman and as an Electronics Technician in the Coast Guard. In the Marine Corps Negrete served as SMAW Team Leader, as a member of the Honor Guard and earned two meritorious promotions. While serving in the Coast Guard he performed an array of duties from maritime law enforcement, including with the “Blue Lightning Strike Force”, search and rescue, multi-national naval operations and electronic warfare operations aboard ship. He additionally graduated from two inter-service schools, the Navy Electronic Warfare School and the Air Force NCO Academy, where he also received the Academy’s Air Force Citizenship Award for exemplary professionalism and leadership.

Negrete had a variety of memorable assignments and ports while serving such as NAS Pensacola, FL – “Home of the Blue Angels”, Guantánamo Bay Cuba, USCGC Acushnet (WMEC 167), USCGC Campbell (WMEC 909), Columbia, Nova Scotia, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Haiti, Bermuda, and St. Lucia to name just a few.

In 2001, Negrete sustained a cervical injury resulting in incomplete quadriplegia (C4-6 ASIA-B). He was treated acutely at UMass Worchester, MA, then transferred to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, MA for his primary inpatient rehabilitation.

Negrete joined Paralyzed Veterans of America in 2008 and didn’t take advantage of their services till searching in 2016 for PM&R services beyond what was available (or not) via community care providers in NH and MA. It was just coincidence that he read in PN Magazine his eligibility for specialized SCI care through the VA. In contacting the New England Chapter for assistance, they were able to arrange a meeting with one of PVA’s National Service Officers. The NSO assisted Negrete with all the necessary paperwork to enroll and start receiving care through the VA Health Care system. Negrete said, “I couldn’t be more thankful to have such a knowledgeable resource available to assist me with receiving the benefits I had earned.” Since enrolling in VA care, he has received all of his healthcare, prescriptions, prosthetics, even adaptive vehicle funding, through the VA, and couldn’t be happier. “It’s been completely life-changing for both me and my wife Terry,” stated Negrete.

“In addition to helping me receive specialized VA healthcare and benefits, PVA has opened the door and shown me there is so much more to life than I ever thought was possible with a spinal cord injury.”

“I sincerely believe in making a difference in the lives of veterans with spinal cord injuries. As part of this, I want to help ensure the Chapter continues to be there as a resource for others that might be in need, whether seeking VA benefits, quality medical care, life enrichment or just some camaraderie with their peers.” said Negrete, when asked about his volunteer work with the New England Chapter.

Some of Negrete’s other Chapter volunteer work over the past 6 years has involved spending time in Washington, D.C. representing New England PVA’s members before their Congressional delegates. Michael has also represented the Chapter at PVA’s Annual Convention and Fall Board meetings as both Chapter President and National Director over the past 6 years, as well. He additionally volunteers his time with PVA by serving on its National Finance and Budget Committee. Negrete also had the privilege of being selected by PVA National President David Zurfluh to serve on special Hearing Panel.

Negrete joined the Chapter Board of Directors in 2015 and was elected President in 2017. He also serves as the Chapter’s National Director to PVA, Communications Director and Editor of their newsletter the “CordWord”. Possessing an extensive IT background, Negrete also manages the Chapter’s IT infrastructure, including its newly redesigned website.

When not volunteering or working, Negrete enjoys dining out with family and friends, concert going, Broadway shows in NY, and has become an avid traveler, cruising (twice to Alaska), visiting Puerto Rico and other destinations all across the country, with his most frequent and favorite destination being Las Vegas, and has also driven extensively throughout the Northeast from Maine to Virginia.

“Out Front” monthly commentaries by Michael Negrete