When the 9/11 terrorist attacks hit the United States in 2001, Mike Bauschka wanted to help – so he left school and joined the U.S. Army. Serving in the military never crossed his mind before the tragic course of events occurred that day.

“In that moment, I felt a compelling need to do my part and help protect our nation,” said Mike Bauschka, a civil structural design specialist at Shell Deer Park.

He served for three and a half years in the Army as a combat engineer, and his unit was deployed to Baghdad from 2004-2005.

“It was one of the most challenging experiences of my life, and the training I received changed my life forever,” said Bauschka.

Following his time in the Army, he moved to Houston to start the next chapter of his career and received a two-year degree from Lone Star College. After a few years of designing and building metal buildings, he worked at WorleyParsons and later signed on as a contactor at Shell Deer Park before accepting a full-time position. In total, he has worked at the site for nearly six years. He and his wife have three children: Vivian (7), Michael Jr. (3) and Evelyn (1).

Veteran loves the family atmosphere at Shell Deer Park

Bauschka loves working at Shell Deer Park, and he appreciates the close friendships employees form in addition to the open dialogue amongst all levels of the site.

“I miss the unique brotherhood of the Army, but I have that sense of family here at the site,” he said.

He’s passionate about helping out other veterans, and he’s heavily involved with Shell Deer Park’s MILNET group, which is a support network for veterans who work at the site. He also started a veterans support group in his neighborhood and is in the process of starting one at his church.

‘Chronic unease’ helps keep people safe

Due to his time in the Army, he said he’s able to effectively and efficiently dissect complex problems that arise on the job and use a critical approach to solving them. Most important, the Army taught Bauschka to take safety very seriously.

“My safety awareness is incredibly heightened now. I always ask myself, ‘What could go wrong?’ before I begin any project,” he said. “Chronic unease is critical to achieving a safe work environment and ensuring everyone goes home to their families the way they arrived.”

He paused before adding, “Safety starts and ends with caring. While I had an incredible opportunity to help protect our country, every employee here at the site has the opportunity to help protect everyone around them by watching out for each other. I take great pride in doing that every day.”

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