FORT RUCKER. Ala. -- The newest Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army was invested during a virtual ceremony conducted May 21 between the Pentagon and Dothan.Michael D. Schmitz, former mayor of Dothan, was selected by Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy to represent Alabama.“I am extremely honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to serve as a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Alabama (South),” Schmitz said. “Having four brothers and a father who all served in the military, I have seen the challenges that they and their families faced as they dedicated their lives to serving our country. I am looking forward to serving as a voice for families like theirs as I continue to tell the story of the U.S. Army and its impact on the great state of Alabama and the U.S.”CASAs are a vital part of the Army, promoting good relations between the Army and the public and advising the secretary about regional issues, according to Army officials.Maj. Gen. David J. Francis, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, congratulated Schmitz on his appointment.“Mike has been a friend to Fort Rucker for many years and I look forward to working with him in his new role,” Francis said. “I know his appointment will only strengthen the already incredible bonds between Fort Rucker and the Wiregrass.”Over the last 40 years, Schmitz has not only established a successful business conglomerate that includes the Mike Schmitz Automotive Group, he has also brought this same passion for business to community endeavors and advocacy on behalf of the United States Army. He is the current chairman of the Dothan City Board of Education, and formerly served two terms as mayor of Dothan (2009-2017).“I am truly humbled, excited, proud and nervous to be appointed as South Alabama’s next CASA,” he said. “While I still have a lot to learn, I understand the importance of Fort Rucker in the Wiregrass Area. The U.S. Army’s impact is not only felt through the presence of the military base, but also through the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve. They all are tremendously important to our local community and our nation, and I can’t wait to learn even more about their various missions. I’m ready to go, go, go!”In 2015, Schmitz led the collaborative effort now known as Fort Rucker: Heartbeat of the Wiregrass, a grassroots coalition of local citizens, municipalities, businesses, military personnel, and others who aimed to support and protect the base and its economic and community contributions. This collaboration culminated in one of the Pentagon’s largest listening sessions, with over 1,600 citizens in attendance.“First, I must say that I am proud to be a part of a community that is still patriotic and supportive of the world's greatest Army! I've always been a patriot and have had the honor of advocating for our local base for many years as a volunteer for AUSA (Association of the U.S. Army) and Friends of Fort Rucker,” he added. “I have served on the Board of the Fort Rucker-Wiregrass Chapter of the AUSA for 15 years and the Board of Friends of Fort Rucker for eight years. Through these two organizations, my passion for Fort Rucker has grown exponentially. I also saw Fort Rucker's economic impact on the Wiregrass firsthand during my time as mayor of Dothan and still every day as a small business owner for over 30 years.”In addition to volunteer positions advocating for the United States Army, he has also committed philanthropic efforts to enhancing and honoring the lives of veterans.A 20-year competitor in over 100 Triathlons, Mr. Schmitz’s personal achievements include swimming from Alcatraz Island to the Golden Gate Bridge, bicycling cross-country from the Pacific to the Atlantic to raise $100,000 for Wiregrass Children’s Home, and along with his son, Michael, summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, to name a few.CASAs serve a two-year term without compensation. Terms may be extended to a total of 10 years of service. The secretary may recognize a civilian aide as a CASA Emeritus after 10 years of service with distinguished service.