Captain Michael Brisson graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach in 2008. He is currently working as an Aeromedical Evacuation Officer for the Alabama Army National Guard. Captain Brisson was recently named Student Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) of the Year at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine at Auburn, AL. The full announcement can be found here.
Discuss your career path since graduating from ERAU in 2008.
In 2008, I graduated and commissioned as a 2LT from ERAU’s Army ROTC program. I was selected to become an Aeromedical Evacuation Officer (67J) in the Medical Service Corps. I attended BOLC II at Fort Benning, GA, BOLC III at Fort Sam Houston, TX, and Flight School XXI at Fort Rucker, AL. My wife Sarah, also an ERAU ’08 alum, and I graduated flight school as H-60 Blackhawk helicopter pilots and moved to Fort Drum as our first duty station. We were assigned to the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. We shortly deployed to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom X-XI. I flew MEDEVAC while Sarah flew VIP/Air Assault missions. After returning from Afghanistan and completing my platoon leader time, I was moved up to Brigade headquarters where I served as the Medical Operations Officer and later as an Assistant Operations Officer. In 2014, we moved back to Fort Rucker where I was assigned to the United States Army School of Aviation Medicine (USASAM). I was appointed as the Director of the U.S. Army Flight Surgeon Primary Course (AFSPC). I spent my last 15-months on active duty as the Director of the Flight Surgeon Course while preparing myself for medical school. After my last day on active duty, I commissioned as a CPT in the Alabama Army National Guard, where I serve today as an Aeromedical Evacuation Officer for the 161st Multifunctional Medical Battalion, Fort Whiting, AL. About two weeks after leaving active duty, I matriculated as a full-time medical student at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, located at Auburn University. I plan to graduate as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) in 2019 and specialize in either Aerospace Medicine or Emergency Medicine.
What skills did you gain with all of your campus involvement while at Embry-Riddle that has assisted your career?
I majored in Applied Meteorology while at ERAU. Being trained as a “weatherman” before becoming a professional pilot for the U.S. Army definitely helped me throughout my active duty career, and it continues to help me today. I feel that I am a more confident pilot when it comes to making weather decisions, whether it is flying MEDEVAC missions for the Army or flying with my family in a C-172. While at ERAU, I attended night school at Daytona Beach Community College (now Daytona State College) to become a Paramedic. I worked part-time as a Paramedic for EVAC Ambulance in Volusia County. This allowed me to assist with the establishment of ERAU’s Medical Emergency and Disaster Relief Club. To this day, I work as a part-time Paramedic for my local EMS agencies (Enterprise Rescue and East Alabama EMS). ERAU set me up for success because it immersed me in a culture that truly has a no-fail mission, much like the Army. Aviators rely on reliable weather forecasts and reports on a daily basis. I am truly thankful to have trained with some of the best meteorologists in the world.
What has been your greatest achievement in your career thus far?
I believe the greatest achievement in my career thus far is being able to serve the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces in combat. I have nothing but ultimate respect for those service members on the ground doing our Nation’s bidding on a daily basis. I am truly honored to be able to respond to their call for help when they need us the most.
What advice do you have for students who will be graduating soon?
Enjoy your time at ERAU. Get involved with as much as you can. Embry-Riddle truly has a worldwide footprint, particularly in the military communities. Don’t think that you can’t specialize in something else not directly related to flying an aircraft. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been flying since I was 14 years old thanks to my parents. Now, I am attending medical school as a weatherman! I plan on becoming an FAA Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) once I graduate and complete my residency. ERAU also prepared me for graduate school and allowed me to earn a Master of Public Health (MPH) and a PhD in Epidemiology. ERAU has opened doors for me and my family that has enabled us to have productive careers, both in the U.S. Army and in the civilian world.