Where Are They Now?

Zach Brooks-Miller '03

By Mark Miller

People often use the term "minefield" to describe a potentially touchy situation, but it's just another day at the office for 2003 graduate Zach Brooks-Miller, who removes unexploded mines around the world for the HALO Trust (High-risk Area Life-saving Organization).

A 1998 Ozark High School graduate, Brooks-Miller was in the Army Reserves during his time at Drury, where he studied history and minored in Middle Eastern studies. After graduation, he enlisted in the Army with a desire to see the world. Sergeant Brooks-Miller was stationed in Germany and served two tours of duty in Iraq as a combat engineer, and he received two Purple Hearts for wounds he received while finding and destroying IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices).

After his discharge from the Army in 2007, Brooks-Miller earned a master's in international affairs and administration. From there, he went to Washington, D.C., and worked for the Survivor Corps, an advocacy group that works with landmine survivors. Brooks-Miller says he wanted to have a more hands-on role in getting rid of landmines, so he got a job with HALO in 2010.

Now, he works in Mozambique, an African country teeming with landmines from three separate wars. Some of the mines date back to the 1970s.

Brooks-Miller manages a staff of 220, in teams made up of deminers, paramedics and one section commander. He spends a lot of time in the field.

"I'll visit the northern mine fields and spend 3-4 days living in a tent in the demining camp," he said. "I make sure my guys have all the food and supplies they need, and I ensure that they're working safely. I'll return to our main office and do my administrative duties for a couple of days. Then, I'll travel to the southern mine fields and live in the demining camp there."

Besides Mozambique, Brooks-Miller has lived in Nagorno-Karabakh and Somaliland. He credits Drury for sparking his adventurous spirit, "When I first got to college, I didn't know what I wanted to do. When I took political science, I started to get interested in world events and I wanted to see the world."

Originally printed in the Feb. 6, 2012, Springfield News-Leader. Read Drury stories each Monday on news-leader.com.