PLH Group Continues Support of Hope and Healing for Wounded Marines

PLH Group Continues Support of Hope and Healing for Wounded Marines

If you ask Cpl. Michael Politowicz, he’ll tell you he was born to be a United States Marine. His path to achieving that goal was anything but smooth and staying on track hasn’t exactly been a cake walk, either.

A Detroit native, Politowicz is the grandson of the late Edward Politowicz Sr., a World War II USMC veteran and survivor of four amphibious assaults, including two on Iwo Jima. He recently passed away at age 91.

With his grandfather as his role model, Michael Politowicz enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2000 at age 18, but he didn’t make it very far.

“Halfway through boot camp, I was attacked by fire ants and went into anaphylactic shock,” he said. “The Navy medical board deemed me unfit to continue with training.”

Michael Politowicz with Warrior Wellness Solutions

Michael Politowicz (Left) with Warrior Wellness Solutions

Politowicz returned to Detroit and worked on auto assembly lines and other factories. His goal was to de-sensitize his allergic reaction to fire ants and then re-enlist. But the Marine Corps told the six-foot-three-inch-tall Politowicz he was 60 pounds overweight. Two months later, he came in 20 pounds overweight. The third time he tried, they told him he still had 8 pounds to lose, so he left the recruiter’s office, put on a wet suit and garbage bags, worked out and lost the weight in two hours.

Finally, in 2009, Politowicz was a Marine again. He was older than his drill sergeant, but he successfully completed boot camp and became a combat engineer.

Two years later, he was on foot patrol in Afghanistan when he stepped on a trip wire and an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated only three feet from him. Politowicz was blown up and landed with a forearm shattered by shrapnel and a traumatic brain injury.

That’s how he wound up in the USMC Wounded Warrior Battalion East at Camp Lejeune, N.C., a Purple Heart recipient suffering PTSD and nightmares, back up to 50 pounds overweight and taking 15 prescription medications.

“I was a shut-in. I couldn’t deal with large crowds and had a hard time socially with new people,” he said. “I couldn’t walk my dog or even walk from my house to my car.”

The average person might have given up right there. Then again, the average person facing all the adversity he’d faced probably would have given up on the Marine Corps years before that. But not Politowicz. He was determined to return to active duty.

Politowicz’s wife, Suzi, reached out for help and was referred to Elijah Sacra, a USMC veteran, personal trainer and founder and executive director of the nonprofit organization Warrior Wellness Solutions. Sacra, who lived in Maryland at the time, was planning a weekend trip to his fiancée’s home in Durham, N.C., and agreed to bring his fiancée, Clarissa Kussin, to visit Politowicz at Camp Lejeune.

That turned out to be the same weekend Hurricane Irene was headed for the North Carolina coast and Camp Lejeune was evacuated. Instead, Politowicz, Suzi and their dog, Jinx, spent the weekend at the farm owned by Kussin, an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, another founder of Warrior Wellness Solutions and Director of Operations for the nonprofit. Together, Sacra and Kussin taught Politowicz and his wife the foundations of their Warrior Wellness Solutions Program, which encompasses nutrition, adaptive functional movement exercise and mindful yoga therapy.

Within three months on the Warrior Wellness Solutions diet, which focuses on holistic nutrition and superfoods such as spinach, kale and chia seeds, Politowicz had reduced his prescription medications from 15 to one. In addition, he had lost so much weight that his company commander at Wounded Warrior Battalion East demanded to know what he’d been doing.

Politowicz told his commanding officer, Antony Andrious, about Warrior Wellness Solutions and said, “You should bring them here.”

His improvement continued by leaps and bounds until finally Andrious called Sacra and invited him to present to the wounded Marines at Camp Lejeune.

“That first workshop at Camp Lejeune in 2011 was the beginning,” Sacra said. “We’ve been here ever since, and Michael Politowicz has been there to tell his story as a testimony at every workshop.”

That almost ended in December of last year, Sacra said, when the corporate sponsor that originally financed the Warrior Wellness Solutions workshops at Camp Lejeune said they couldn’t afford to continue. The nonprofit’s work with wounded veterans and service members is provided free of charge, and its directors and staff are not paid.

“Without sponsorship, we couldn’t continue helping the Marines in the Wounded Warrior Battalion East,” Sacra said.

“That’s when PLH Group, which had sponsored two Warrior Wellness Solutions workshops at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) and also hosted a charity golf outing to benefit Warrior Wellness Solutions in 2014, stepped up to help wounded Marines as well,” Sacra said.

The first PLH Group sponsored Warrior Wellness Solutions workshop at Camp Lejeune was held March 26 and attended by 30 wounded Marines and staff, including the new executive officer of the battalion. In addition, several community partners who have helped to support Warrior Wellness Solutions’ work donated four blenders to be given away at the workshop. The workshop covered nutrition, functional movement, rehabilitative exercise, yoga and mindfulness.

And, of course, Michael Politowicz was there. This time, he not only gave his personal testimonial on the effectiveness of the Warrior Wellness Solutions Program, but also taught an entire session on superfoods as they relate to physical performance and workouts.

Politowicz knows something about physical performance and workouts, because he’s a competitive bicyclist, triathlete and powerlifter. He’s also won a gold medal in shot put and a bronze in discus at the Marine Corps Warrior Games Trials and will be participating again in June.

Politowicz is part of the 1 percent of Marines who has left the Wounded Warrior Battalion and returned to active duty, just as he set out to do years before. He now works in the Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC), supporting Marines who are training for special operations.

“That never would have been possible without Warrior Wellness Solutions,” Politowicz told participants in the March 26 workshop. “I wouldn’t be standing here in front of you today.”

About Warrior Wellness Solutions

Warrior Wellness Solutions is a community-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization focused on training, education and empowerment of wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans. The organization was founded in 2009 by U.S. Marine Corps veterans and a career holistic health and wellness practitioner. Warrior Wellness Solutions delivers a full spectrum of evidence-based holistic and integrative health and wellness services, free of charge, to the wounded, ill and injured warrior community. For more information, visit www.WarriorWellnessSolutions.org.

About PLH Group, Inc.

PLH is a leading provider of construction and maintenance services to the electric power delivery and pipeline industries in North America. Its customers include many of the largest utilities, regional cooperatives, renewable energy developers, commercial and industrial customers, and major oil and gas producers and midstream companies. PLH, has acquired Sun Electric, TESSCO, AIR2, Auger Services, Snelson Companies, IPS Engineering, Southeast Directional Drilling, M&M Pipeline Services, Energy Services South, Pipeworx, TTR Substations and R.B. Hinkle Construction. For more information, visit www.PLHGroupInc.com.

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