How a Russian-speaking immigrant went through Iraq and Afghanistan and became a special forces police in the USA
Mikhail Venikov is a policeman in the city of San Mateo, near San Francisco. He serves in a special unit to combat money laundering and human trafficking. Michael also founded the organization Ranger Road, which helps veterans adapt to civilian life.
“I think one of the main tasks facing the police officer is to help the citizens living in the territory entrusted to us, to provide them with a safe and comfortable living environment so that they can go to school, to work and return home, knowing that they will be safe, ”Mikhail said Voice of America.
Next - from the first person.
I was born in Almaty, Kazakhstan. When I was little, my parents and I moved to Mariupol, and from there to Rome. We lived in Rome for about three months. After Rome we moved to America - to Sacramento, California.
We speak Russian with parents and relatives. I go to church and there I also speak Russian. But since I live in America and many of my friends are Americans, it is easier for me to communicate and communicate in English.
My regular work day starts at 11: 40. We work until 23: 00-00: 00. Each day is different: it all depends on the specific situation. We take to the streets or conduct outdoor surveillance in accordance with current needs. It can be anything: from trafficking to drugs to stopping a car full of drugs and firearms. We are doing this and trying to make everyone happy.
As far as I know, we came to America in 1989. There was a church in Sacramento called the Capital Christian Center, and they helped us move. We arrived in Sacramento, then everything started spinning - and we started our life here. In hindsight, I am very grateful and grateful for everything that happened because we arrived with almost nothing but a couple of suitcases with clothes. They helped us, introduced us to people, but in fact we had a lot to do ourselves. My father had to work very hard, my mother raised us. Little by little they saved up money and got on their feet. So, if you are ready to overcome something, to become someone - in America it is possible, if only work hard and make efforts. In fact, you can become what you want here and do what you want.
My father served in the Russian army, and in a way, this is funny because I served in the US Army. I went to the service in the year 2003. You won’t believe it, but I knew practically nothing about the rangers, nor about the special forces. Being in the service, I was sent to the war zone three times: two times to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. These military campaigns consisted of sending to a place, participating in events and carrying out their work. My military career was developing brilliantly: everything went perfectly, I learned a lot, was in great physical shape.
What I liked about military service is that if you have a good record, it is appreciated and encouraged. Considering all of the above, I was offered to participate in The Best Ranger competition. This competition is held annually in Fort Bening, Georgia. We won - and it was really cool. I happened to meet many high-ranking representatives of the army, a couple of generals. Life was in full swing.
I do not remember exactly when this happened. I was either heading back to Fort Louis, or it was after I
won the competition, my unit was still in the war zone and they came under fire. Several of our friends could not return. They did not survive. It is difficult to realize until the end, until the time passes. It was incredibly difficult when we attended the ceremonies ... Then an understanding of what happened came. It's hard no matter which way you look.
Soon after, I left military service and returned back to Sacramento, where my parents live and my home was. I knew I didn't want to be in the army anymore, but I didn't know what I would do. Some veterans have very big difficulties in adapting, because they start thinking like this: “I'm back, I can do what I want. My comrades have not returned. Am I to blame for the fact that they are not around? " It's very hard. I mean, it can be fatal. Too much free time, alcohol, substance abuse - all this leads to other problems.
Where I was lucky was that I didn't have a period of inactivity. Literally a week after my return, I got acquainted with MMA mixed martial arts. One of my friends had his own gym and fights were held there. I was invited to watch - and it is as if the trigger went off. I thought - hey, maybe I can do this? I am in good shape and love to compete. It became a kind of umbrella: something that helped me. I took part in a couple of amateur fights, won them, and then moved to the professional field of mixed martial arts, entered the team and I had a chance to compete in 6 professional fights. I won 4 fights.
Twice or thrice a week I do boxing and jujitsu in the training process, which I go through in the gym in Sacramento to keep fit and know about mixed martial arts.
Studying at the police academy lasted 6 months. As soon as I graduated from the academy, a recruiter from San Mateo came to us at a kind of job fair for cadets and students of the academy who have not yet got a job. We talked a bit, and I was offered to try to work at the San Mateo Police Station. I had no idea where San Mateo was. There I began my police officer training program. So began my career in law enforcement.
When you complete the training program, your next step is patrolling. The patrolling policeman is the most familiar policeman for most people. This is a routine job. When someone in America dials 911, the dispatcher notifies the police representative in the area what is happening, and the police officer responds. Or if you are speeding in a city, you may be stopped, fined or explained to you why it is important not to speed. The first to react and assist civilians are patrolmen.
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About 4 years ago, I had the opportunity to get into the anti-crime unit. This is a special unit in the San Mateo Police Department. We do a lot - in fact, we do everything. If you are driving through the streets of San Mateo or another city, you probably will not realize that we are police officers, and you will not notice us: our cars are unmarked, and we are not wearing police uniforms. In most cases, we wear regular clothes. If we work in a certain area, there is a reason. Someone sells drugs or is involved in illegal activities in the area. We arrive there, observe, merge with the crowd. Sometimes, when we approach objects and show our token, they see it and run away.
Nowadays there are so many firearms in the streets, it is very dangerous. Often there are situations when our people get injured. But such is the nature of our activity. I would love to take a crew with me, but it is very, very dangerous.
I don't remember how many years I was already serving as a patrolman when I got the opportunity to join the SWAT team. This is a group of people who are extremely highly trained in various fields and tactics. And if a dangerous situation unfolds within the city - for example, someone has barricaded themselves in a house, in a bank - the patrol will probably be the first to receive the call. If it becomes clear that there is a man with a weapon, the patrol will not go there. They leave the SWAT, outline an action plan, develop it, and decide what needs to be done. SWAT connects in the most dangerous situations that can happen in the city.
I am married, my wife's name is Ailina Venikova, and we have an eight-month-old daughter, Hazel. Family is a wonderful, very important and sensitive topic. Especially with this kind of work, where there is a high level of stress: the army, law enforcement. There are days when you go to work and may not come back. The support I receive from my wife is very important. We are religious people, she prays for me that everything will be fine at work, and I returned home safely.
“You are worried that something might happen,” Ailina says in Russian. “But I try not to think about it. I AM
I think he may be looking for an adrenaline rush, but at home he is like a bear. "
“For us, police officers, it is very important to know that we are loved and needed, that someone is waiting for us at home,” continues
My career in the army was developing brilliantly: I returned safely, arms and legs intact. I have my own
restrictions. Most of those who pass through highly active units - Afghanistan or Iraq - end up with some form of disability or post-traumatic stress disorder. There are other forms of physical limitation.
I receive many letters or requests on Facebook from people who returned from military service. I began
to think, what helped me when I left the service? What have I done differently? In fact, I immediately started
deal with MMA and immediately got into law enforcement. I surrounded myself with good people, I was always at work, which did not leave me time to sit still and sort out my military memories in my head. I was busy. I thought: maybe I can reach these guys and help them?
So the idea was born of creating Ranger Road, our non-profit association of veterans. And we decided that we would support veterans of all military directions and help them to take the right path, to be near as this path opens to them. As part of the Ranger Road, we hold events and programs so that the guys with our support can move forward step by step. They want help but don’t know how to find it. And these are not the people who will ask for it.
Knowing this helps me work on Ranger Road. And instead of asking if help is needed, we try to bring everyone together to have a good time, identify existing problems and their struggles outside the boundaries and physical limitations - and then give them a push in the right direction.
Alejandro has double amputation after serving in the army. I periodically come to the gym and conduct sessions with him to get him in better shape. This helps both him and me, not only on the physical, but also on the emotional level.
“When veterans start getting bored at home, psychological problems surface,” says Alejandro Jauregui. - This often leads to alcoholism, addiction. When I met Mikhail, it happened to me. And in 2015, I made a parachute jump with Mikhail. From that moment I started working out in the gym and began to live an active life. And then I started working again, opened a business. It all started with classes in the gym. "
When you work in law enforcement, this is more than your direct activity, - continues Mikhail. It is also an investment for the future. By working and patrolling the streets, cleaning them up and providing safer living conditions for our citizens, we do so for our children. Hazel will grow up and go to school. She herself will be on the street - maybe go to eat with friends or drink coffee. So I want to make sure the streets are safe and Hazel has a good environment and conditions in which to grow.
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stdClass Object ([term_id] => 17739 [name] => Russians in the USA [taxonomy] => post_tag [slug] => russkie-v-ssha)Russians in the USA
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