Michael T. Waldrop - US Army - Orlando, FL
During the past several years, Captain Waldrop has distinguished himself as Chairman of the Honorable Buddy Dyer, City of Orlando Veterans Advisory Council. The Purpose of this organization is: “To give active and meaningful support to our city’s Veterans.” Most importantly, the vision of this Advisory Council is: “To become the leading resource to the City of Orlando’s Veteran community, to recognize our Veterans’ service by honoring them through high quality events, to become the city’s leading advocate for our Veterans and to become the leading resource for Veteran-related issues within the City of Orlando.”
In support of this nomination I must emphasize that Captain Waldrop is a renowned citizen of the state of Florida for over 20 years, and a former US Army Infantry Officer who served with distinction in Southern Afghanistan in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During this special combat assignment, Captain Waldrop commanded an Afghanistan National Army Rifle Company consisting of 60 foreign soldiers. He remained active in the combat area and participated in all major combat actions during the summer and fall of 2006 and through the spring of 2007. Captain Waldrop suffered combat wounds in action in July 2006 during the Battle of Panjwai and was awarded the Purple Heart Medal. For conspicuous intrepidity during this combat action he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor which is the fourth highest combat decoration awarded for Valor. Subsequently, for vivid gallantry in combat, Captain Waldrop was recommended by the 3rd Group Special Forces Ground Commander for a second Bronze Star Medal for gallantry in action displayed on 13 November 2006 during the fierce fighting in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan
In 2012, Michael Waldrop founded the Florida Association of Veteran Owned Business (FAVOB) as a 501c6 trade association. This Association is a chamber of commerce for Veteran Owned Businesses and those that support the Veteran business community. Under his personal leadership, FAVOB has grown to over 100 business members and has been extremely successful in passing Veteran Small Business programs within the Orange County Government, the City of Orlando, the Greater Aviation Authority and Orange County Public Schools. Waldrop’s professional initiatives have substantially influenced the awareness and promotion of the Veterans business community to large private corporations in the state of Florida.
I am vividly reminded that in his professional life, Waldrop supervises and operates Blue Cord Design and Construction, an Orlando based design-build firm that he personally founded in 2009 upon returning home from Afghanistan. His diligent passion and superior commitment to excellence in support of his Blue Cord initiative is to enrich and expand small business in and around veterans. He is the proud co-founder of the Camaraderie Foundation along with his wife, a 5O1-c3 non-profit organization, which serves military families and Veterans in providing private professional counseling assistance. This Foundation is currently assisting many military families with mental health support and spiritual counseling to assist them with the adjustment home from the battlefield. It is important to state that during the course of the last decade; more than 1500 families have successfully been supported by the timely and remedial efforts of Waldrop’s personal initiative. This organization under his leadership has not only saved marriages and assisted with service members as they transition but has saved countless lives.
It is important to report that while serving in Afghanistan, Waldrop developed a concept that he presented to local legislators to exempt property taxes for future military personnel serving away from home in combat zones. His earnest concept and professional leadership towards this vision led to Amendment 2 on the November 2010 statewide ballot. This State Constitutional Amendment passed with over 3.2 million in support of this legislation. The effort initiated by Waldrop constitutes a savings of approximately $15 million for all future military personnel serving in combat zones.
Finally, the Orlando populace is extremely fortunate that Waldrop served with distinct character, integrity and brilliant devotion to duty as the immediate past Chairman of the Honorable Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Veterans Advisory Council which is made up of volunteer representatives from all the Veteran Service Organizations in the region. He served in this capacity for over seven years. It is clearly evident that Waldrop’s impressive initiatives and polished leadership skills substantially propelled the City of Orlando to become the most Veteran friendly community in Orange County and the State of Florida.
In view of the above stated unique facts and specific achievements, I strongly submit that you seriously take action to award the Florida Veteran’s Hall of Fame distinction to Michael Waldrop, a true combat hero who experienced the horrors of war and the pains of combat wounds to defend and sustain those precious goals and ideals that made America the Greatest Nation on Planet Earth in securing, peace, justice and freedom for all mankind.
Education and Training Accomplishments:
Mr. Waldrop was born and raised in South Carolina as the son of a Retired US Navy Vietnam Veteran and the grandson of a US Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant that fought in the WWII Pacific campaigns and was wounded during the battle of Iwo Jima. His high school education during that time was at a local Charleston SC Catholic school, Bishop England. He went on to further his education at Clemson University and became the first in his family of five to receive a college degree. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management.
During his college education, Mr. Waldrop enlisted in the SC Army National Guard in 1993 as an Infantry Private. He was trained and educated as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle driver, dismount and gunner. He was selected at an early age to attend Officer Candidate School and graduated from the Palmetto Military Academy in 1996. He became one of the youngest commissioned officers in the State.
Mr. Waldrop went on to be trained at Fort Benning, GA and graduated form the Infantry Officer Basic Course and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle Leadership Course. He served as a Platoon Leader in a Mechanized Infantry Battalion. After several years of service, Mr. Waldrop decided to move to the State of Florida in 1999 to pursue a professional business career. He entered the Inactive Ready Reserves in order to still serve his country if need be.
Mr. Waldrop was called back to active duty for a unique operation in Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) in 2006 and trained for the US Army Infantry, Captain’s Career Course. He is a Certified General Contractor (Lie. CGC15O8957), LEED Accredited Professional and US Army Corps of Engineers Quality Control/Quality Assurance Program Graduate
Professional or Employment History:
Upon moving to the State of Florida over twenty years ago. Lieutenant Waldrop started a family and his professional business career. His first position was as an Operations Manager of a litigation support company called the Presentation Group. After assisting this start-up company grow to over 17 offices across the United States, Mr. Waldrop decided to pursue a career in the Construction Industry. He was hired by an Orlando Based Design-Build firm and held the positions of Superintendent, Project Engineer, Project Manager, Business Development Director, and Vice President of Operations over the next ten years. His service to this company was interrupted by an unexpected deployment for a Special Operations mission in Southern Afghanistan in 2006-2007 as a rifle company commander and Army Infantry Captain.
Upon returning home from War, Captain Waldrop developed a dream and a passion to build and grow his own small business focused in and around Veterans. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to found Blue Cord Design and Construction which has grown to be a $35m local small business. During the last decade, Mr. Waldrop also started several commercial development firms, 440W LLC (focused on private development), Blue Cord DevGroup LLC (focused on federal development projects) and Blue Cord Real Estate and Development Company LLC.
He and his wife also founded the Camaraderie Foundation, Inc. They have dedicated their volunteer time and financial resources to build this highly successful non-profit serving our heroes and their families over the last ten years. Camaraderie is a statewide non-profit 5O1c3. Camaraderie Foundation’s mission is to provide healing for the invisible wounds of war through counseling, emotional and spiritual support for all branches of Post-9/11 Veterans, Service members and their families.
Camaraderie provides access to mental health counseling services, at no expense, to Post-9/11 Veterans, Service Members and their families. These warriors and their families experience Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, Military Sexual Trauma, divorce, substance abuse, spousal abuse, child abuse and other issues. Camaraderie seeks to provide Post-9/11 Veterans, Service Members and their families with support, encouragement and counseling to alleviate the stress associated with their transition from the battlefield back into society by building a strong community of support around them. Through the healing of their invisible wounds, Camaraderie is truly Saving Lives – Saving Families. Camaraderie is currently celebrating 10 years of serving Post-9/11 Veterans, Service members, and their families throughout the state of Florida.
In 2013, Mr. Waldrop saw the need to help advocate for other and future Veteran entrepreneurs and founded the Florida Association of Veteran-Owned Businesses. (FAVOB). FAVOB is the Veteran’s Chamber of Commerce, advocating for our fellow Veteran business owners in the state of Florida. The purpose of the FAVOB is to promote and unite the many established and start-up businesses which are owned by Veterans throughout the State of Florida. It is a 5O1(c)6 trade association for Veteran entrepreneurs and those that support them.
Other professional contributions include the following: 2014 Spirit of America Veteran of Influence Award – Orlando Business Journal
The Veterans of Influence Awards recognizes military veterans who have made a significant achievement in their careers in the past year, have a strong record of innovation or outstanding performance in their work and are actively involved in our community First Inaugural Annual Spirit of America Award, Orlando Business Journal, 2014 — The Spirit of America Award is given to the top Veteran of Influence awardees by the Orlando Business Journal.
- Chairman of the West Orange Chamber of Commerce 2010
- Orlando Chamber of Commerce Leadership Orlando graduate Class 53,2001
- 2018 Blue Cord Design & Construction 50 Fastest Growing Companies in Central Florida #15 – Orlando Business Journal
- Downtown Orlando Partnership, former Board of Directors
Civic Activities and Contributions:
Mr. Waldrop and his family have dedicated themselves to serving and advocating for the Veteran Community throughout the State of Florida. While deployed in Afghanistan, Waldrop developed a concept which he presented to local legislators to exempt property taxes for future service members serving away from home in a combat zone. His leadership and commitment to serving fellow Veterans led to Amendment 2 on the November 2010 statewide ballot. It passed with over 3.2 million votes being cast in favor of the amendment, which resulted in a savings of approximately $15 million for future service members in all branches of the US military in the State of Florida serving in combat zones.
Michael and his wife Marnie co-founded the Camaraderie Foundation in 2009. Camaraderie is a non-profit serving military families and Veterans by providing mental health support and spiritual counseling to help Veterans adjust to home and civilian life after the battlefield. The focus of the organization is to help heal service members and their families from the invisible wounds of war. Currently, Camaraderie has served over 1,500 families in Florida.
From 2011 through 2018. Mr. Waldrop served as the Chairman of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Veteran’s Advisory Council which is made up of volunteers from many Veteran service organizations in the region. Together they are leading an initiative to make the City of Orlando the most Veteran friendly community in the nation. Mr. Waldrop was presented a proclamation making October 22, 2018, “Michael Waldrop Day” for his years of service to the Veteran community in this capacity by the Orlando City Mayor and City Council. In this capacity, Mr. Waldrop planned and led seven years of Veterans Day Parades and major Memorial Day Services throughout the City of Orlando among many other initiatives.
From 2011-2016, Mr. Waldrop led initiatives at Orange County Government, the City of Orlando, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority and Orange County Public Schools to adopt and create meaningful Veteran Small Business programs that have all now been local community.
Other contributions to his community include:
- successfully implemented throughout the Award recipients. This volunteer committee honors an American Veteran who has contributed to and helped further the cause of aviation in Central Florida.
- Appointed to the Orange County Industrial Development Board of Directors, former Vice- Chairman
- Appointed as Chairman of the City of Orlando’s Veterans Advisory Council, 2011-2018
- Atwater and future Senate President Andy Gardiner
- Sam Hovsepian Leadership Hall of Fame Award, West Orange Chamber of Commerce, 2009
- 40 Under 40 Award, Orlando Business Journal, 2005
- Central Floridian of the Week, Central Florida News 13, 2009
- First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, Elder, 2011
- Veterans of Foreign Wars, Life-Member American Legion, Member
- Military Order of the Purple Heart, Life- Member
- Salvation Army, Board of Directors and Vice Chairman (former)
- Appointed to the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Liberty Weekend Committee leader recognizing future Colonel Joe Kittenger
Awards or Honors:
- The 2017 Association of the United States Army Sunshine Chapter Earle L. Denton Award for Outstanding Service to the Central Florida Army Family with wife Marnie Waldrop (awarded June 2018)
- Veteran’s Champion, Orlando Business Journal, Veterans of Influence Awards, 2016
- Everyday Hero, Central Florida News 13, 2015
- Recipient of the Florida Senate Spirit of Service Award 2009 by current Senate President Jeff
- 2014 Spirit of America Veteran of Influence Award – Orlando Business Journal
- First Inaugural Annual Spirit of America Award,
- Orlando Business Journal, 2014 Bronze Star for Valor, 08 July 2006,
- Bronze Star for Valor, 13 November 2006, Afghanistan
- Purple Heart
- Combat Infantryman Badge
- National Defense Service Medal
- Afghanistan Campaign Medal
- Global War on Terror Medal
- Army Service Ribbon
- Overseas Service Ribbon
- Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M Device • NATO Medal