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Acknowledge & Answer The Call For Help


Red Star Cluster: (US) A distress call; literally refers to a hand held launched  red pyrotechnic signal flare. In non combat situations, acknowledgement of  a precarious situation or need for help.

With a clear but simple mission of helping and inspiring others,  Michael Washington of Red Star Cluster is a dynamic Motivational Speaker who is known for making a memorable impact on his audience. 

Michael's unique approach in sharing his personal story of struggle and triumph over PTSD is one that will have a lasting effect on the way you view and experience life.  


It is our hope that if you see yourself in his story and recognize the signs of distress that you will take the first steps toward seeking help, healing and Post Traumatic Growth.

 Several of Michael's speaking topics include:

  • Mental Health and Wellness

  • Post Traumatic Growth

  • Resilience

  • Suicide Prevention and Education

  • Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)

  • Taking Off The Uniform - Your Life Beyond Service

  • Peer Support




Michael Washington is an engaging, knowledgeable and impactful Motivational Speaker. With his dynamic personality and innovative approach, each speaking engagement is tailored to the specific audience.

Mike's mission is to assist veterans and First Responders to identify, understand and react to the forces of stress as a means to combating the forces of PTSD and suicide. 

Mike is a Seattle Firefighter with over 30 years of operational experience. In addition to his ordinary assignment as a firefighter, Mike is also a member of the Seattle Fire Departments Critical Incident Stress Management Team with over 20 years experience assisting his Brother and Sister Firefighters locally and around the country. Mike is a member of the Puget Sound Urban Search and Rescue Team and Seattle Fire Department's Wildland Response Team. Mike is also a fire service intelligence analyst for the Washington State Fusion Center. This service is an adjunct to his special assignment to the National Counter Terrorism Center in 2009.

Mike Washington is a retired Marine Corps Master Sergeant with 23 years of service (7 active, 16 reserve), with deployments to Desert Storm, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa as well as numerous other real-world missions. 

Mike is a member of Team Rubicon, a veteran’s disaster relief organization and has responded to over a dozen disasters domestically and internationally. Mike was honored as Team Rubicon Veteran of the Year 2013.

Mike was humbled to be selected by the Starbucks Coffee Company as an Upstander for 2017 and honored with a video written story by Rajiv Chandrasakeran and podcast narrated by actor Michael B. Jordan.

Mike was further honored and humbled by being named as the 2019 recipient of the HOOAH Award presented by The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and Citizenship.

Mike holds a Masters of Social Work Degree from the University of Southern California and a Masters of Strategic Intelligence Degree from American Military University.

Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Symposium
Galveston TX
October 2018



"Mike Washington is a stand alone communicator and provides to his audience(s) the reality of the struggle many first responders deal with in the silent wars we all fight in our respective careers with the daily episodes of post traumatic stress."

              Seattle Conference,   December 2018

In The News

Seize the Opportunity


King5 News Interview

July 27, 2018

After two back to back line of duty deaths in the local first responder community Mike Washington with the Seattle Fire Department talks with the  King 5 -Take Five news team about resources available to help first responders cope with the struggles of their job.

Click on image above to watch.


Starbucks Upstanders

October 6, 2017

Upstanders: The Firefighters’ Rescuer

By Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran

Editor’s note:  This is one of the episodes in the second season of Upstanders, a collection of short stories that asks what it means to have courage in today’s America. Produced by Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Upstanders help inspire us to be better citizens.

Click on image above to watch.



July 17, 2019

This week, Ken Harbaugh sits down with two people who have had to reckon with both the historical and personal implications of patriotism. His first guest, Mike Washington, has had to make sense of his patriotism as both a veteran and as a father who lost his son to the war in Afghanistan. Then, he talks to retired four-star General Stanley McChrystal about reckoning with the impact of both his decisions and the missions he was assigned while leading US and international forces in Afghanistan.

Click on image above to watch.