Oklahoma Game Wardens from our NE region participates regularly with officers of Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas to meet several times a year to discuss regional wildlife enforcement issues facing all our states. The host state is a revolving responsibility that moves among the 4 states periodically.
This particular meeting, held in February, would be far more special than most. Hosted by Arkansas, the gathering would witness a presentation would not be soon forgotten. In addition to the routine information provided by each attending state, a special speaker would highlight the program. Michael K. Neal, AR Game Warden related how his years as a paramedic, deputy, and firefighter, strengthened his mindset as a warrior to cope with the life challenge he would face in May, 2010. He explained how he’d pursued an AR Trooper career for eight years but just didn’t seem to make the cut. Then when given the opportunity, Neal hired with the AR Department of Fish and Game. He continued to explain how all of his training brought him to confront the evil that killed two officers and critically wounded two others. Then Neal says that very training brought him successfully through the ordeal.
The following aftermath, says Neal, caused him to realize how proud he was to be a Game Warden “and for the best agency in his state!” he exclaimed. Also having had years of family background in the funeral home business, Neal explained, helped him to cope with the psychological issues that typically arise from such high stress, mortality related events.
Now, since his recovery from minor injuries and after receiving numerous awards and recognition for valor, Michael K. Neal has found comfort, even relief from his talks with fellow law enforcement groups. Some might ‘hold it in’ when coping with such traumatic events, but Neal says, for him, “It’s better to get it out”. Then with a boyish smirk, he surveyed the room from one end to the other. It was full of wardens, civilians, and a few deputies (and no state troopers). Then Neal said in a modest tone, “and now the highway patrol has told me they’ll hire me and give me any assignment I want…but, I’m staying right where I’m at, with the best there is- the Arkansas Department of Fish and Game”.