How/Why was it established?
In 1996, the Founder was shot at point blank range with a shotgun during a robbery by three teenagers. During his medical recovery he felt the call to work with America’s future “Our Youth” once he retired from the service. He started doing intense research and informally organized NAIMO. He got involved with Local and State educational systems to develop several different “Character Education” programs that were mandated by Georgia State Law.
In 2002 the Founder retired from the Army and started teaching Inner City Middle and High School in the Atlanta, Georgia area. He immediately started implementing several different Adventure Base programs, which resulted in a dramatic change within the two schools he taught at. The Administration was so impressed with his results that they asked him to design a program for their staff and administrators for the coming new school year of 2004. Before that could happen, the Founder was asked by the Department of Defense to go too Iraq and help them with the reconstruction efforts of “Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
The Founder resigned from his teaching position and went to Iraq as the Senior Civilian Operations Officer and Executive Officer for the five Northern Provinces of Iraq. His main responsibility was to establish secure housing and life support systems to take care of all civilians assigned to work in the Northern Zone. During this process, he became very familiar with the local government officials throughout the Northern Zone. He established the main service support center in Erbil/Ainkawa, with satellite offices in Kirkuk, Suleimaniyah, Mosul and Duhok. The Founder started several different programs with the local government to help the socially displaced people and orphans. One of the programs he funded and started personally was working with the local schools to paint murals on the walls surrounding their schools. While he was establishing these various bases throughout the North he used a few Adventure Base Programming techniques to train his staff and it was one of the Key tools he accredits with getting them to overlook their differences and work towards a brighter future. In March of 2004 the Founder was called back home to the US because of his parents failing health. Before he left he promised the people of Iraq, (Kurdistan), that he would return one day.
Formalization of NAIMO:
Upon the Founder’s return to the United States several of his former students contacted him begging him to return to teaching. Once he got his family’s health situation settled, he decided to serve as a volunteer Scuba Instructor for the Boys Scouts of American at their Florida Sea Base in Islamorada, Florida. Lee is a Master Scuba Diver Trainer and he always found Peace and Solace in diving. One day while teaching diving in the Keys his crew witnessed another boat capsized by a very large wave causing all of the occupants to be thrown overboard. Lee immediately, without thinking, dove in and personally rescued all eight of the personnel who had no life jackets and could not swim. Several of the adult Scoutmasters who witnessed this feat nominated Lee for one of the highest Boy Scouts of America Award –the “James C. West Fellow”. Lee felt very humbled by this award and it caused him to reflect that all he really did was exhibit the morals, values and skills he had been taught. Throughout the summer numerous other Scouting leaders were always commenting on how well he worked with the scouts and how great a role model he was for ALL of them to emulate.
US State Department Grant “Project Dream Catcher”.
Upon the completion of the Scout Scuba Training program in September 2004, Lee formally organized NAIMO as a 501-C-3 Non-profit Educational Organization. In May of 2005 NAIMO was awarded an International Sports Programming Initiative grant with the United States State Department Bureau of Cultural Affairs. The US State Department selected NAIMO’s proposal of returning to Iraq/Kurdistan to teach the Iraqi people how to incorporate “Character Education Training into their Physical Education Curriculum using Adventure Base Training techniques.
In January 2006, the Founder went to Northern Iraq (Kurdistan) to meet with the Kurdistan Minister of Education, His Excellency, Mr.Abdulaziz Tayeb and his staff. Lee spent ten days amongst the various ethnic groups within Kurdistan and conducted numerous clinics demonstrating how to incorporate this program throughout ALL of Iraq. They were very receptive and excited about the program presented. In March 2006, Lee was invited to the White House to explain NAIMO’s mission and programs to President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush where he received their personal accolades for his work. In October 2006, NAIMO was awarded a second grant to continue their work with the Iraqi Ministry of Education. In July 2007 Lee was requested to return too Iraq and organize the Iraqi Ministry of Defense MOD) Joint Operations Center (JOC) into an effective organization. Lee used multiple Adventure programs and Native American Indian Cultural programs to form them into an efficient staff in spite of their multiple ethnic tribal differences.
Upon the completion of his tour in Iraq in September 2008 Lee was asked by some Senior Military Officers to start a program to help returning service members and their family members how to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). NAIMO partnered with several other Non-profit agencies to design and implement the “WARRIOR FAMILY PROGRAM”. The program was such a hit that it was endorsed by State and National legislators, current and former Governors of Georgia to include several other Veteran agencies.