Appleton, Wis. (WFRV) – Dale McNamee always knew the military was for him.

He enlisted in the army in 1979 after graduating from Escanaba High School, and remained with the Army National Guard for the next 26 years.

But it was a piece of military technology that sparked McNamee’s interest to become active: The Stryker, an armored fighting vehicle used by the Army.

“It was a great vehicle and that’s why I went with that unit,” McNamee said.

“I felt you know, I wanted to be mechanized number one and number two, I wanted to see this new advanced technology and how it worked in battlespace,” said McNamee.

So he finally did. At the age of 45, McNamee deployed to Mosul, Iraq with the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. There, he led a Counterinsurgency Operation Team.

“I kind of observed what they were doing and then I would come back and I’d write stuff that could be sent out through the whole brigade, lessons learned and things like that,” McNamee recalled.

“I had trained my whole adult life for this, but I never got to put those skills to the test in the ultimate place to put them,” he said.

McNamee put his skills to the test for three years, before retiring from the service in 2007.

It was then that he realized he wasn’t quite ready for life outside of the military.

“When I came home to be honest, I had a real hard time readjusting, so I spent a lot of time doing a lot of therapy and you know,” said McNamee. “That’s one of the things that allows me to do the stuff that I can do, and like I said, I like to give it back,” he said.

It was after going through some of his own struggles that McNamee found the halls of Vets and Friends in Appleton, where he can continue his mission of helping other vets.

“We were talking about why I do it? Because these guys are my brothers and my sisters and you know, I think they need to be taken care of and if I can be part of that,” said McNamee.

“Then that’s the reward I get out of it, passing it on, and hopefully they get the benefits they need,” he said.