George enlisted in the Army one month after graduating from high school and attended basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He began his career as a mortar crew member assigned to the 4th Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 25th Light Infantry Division. Over a decade of service, he served as a parachute rigger, as a reservist with the Idaho Air National Guard, and participated in Operations Southern Watch (Iraq) and Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan).
George separated from the military in 2003 to focus on a career in corrections. However, Nickel later volunteered as a reserve Combat Engineer in 2005 to support the US Army Reserves’ 321st Engineer Battalion’s deployment to Iraq. It was while clearing explosives in Ramadi and Fallujah that George was injured.
For over twenty years George was in uniformed service on either a state or federal level and saw that as his identity. After returning from combat and no longer able to continue to serve his country in uniform, George struggled to re-establish his identity along a new path at home. As founder of the Idaho Veteran’s Network, a community-based crisis management organization, George assists “at risk” veterans move from dysfunctional and destructive lifestyles to recovery, hope, and constructive options.
His Operation Overwatch program provides peer-to-peer mentoring, advocacy, recreational activities, and sharing of information concerning local veteran resources in the community.