Here in the civilian world, we like our victims to be victims. We like to wring our hands.
But in 2003, a group of Marine wives responded when the wounded began coming home from the Iraq war. They founded the Semper Fi Fund to offer assistance to the wounded and their families.
Case in point: A Marine was paralyzed from the waist down. He eventually was released home to his wife and kids in a wheelchair. Each day, his petite wife took him to his rehab appointment. She struggled to lift him from his wheelchair into their car. One day, she slipped and they both fell. She got up and tried again.
The Semper Fi Fund bought them an adapted van. After that, the Marine drove himself to his medical appointments and drove his kids to school.
In 2003, Marine spouses Karen Guenther, Annette Conway, Sondria Saylor, Helen Toolan and Karen Kelly arranged travel for family members who couldn’t afford airfare, they raised money to purchase a specialized van for the quadriplegic Marine, and they distributed care packages with toiletries to the wounded and their families.
The organization grew. It is now a 501c charity. The overhead is less than 5% and all of their financial statements are online at www.semperfifund.org.
“Semper Fi” means “Always Faithful.” The fund now offers cash grants because “by reducing the burden of financial worries for our service members and their families, we allow them to instead place their much-needed attention toward the recovery process.” The fund provides adaptive housing and specialized vans.
Currently, the Semper Fi Fund has 172 open cases:
Missing 4 limbs: 3 (2 Marines, 1 Army)
Missing 3 limbs: 19
Missing 2 limbs: 65
Missing 1 limb: 81
Total amputees: 168
Total catastrophic cases in the hospital or out-patient: 172
I thought of the other numbers:
$18 billion in aid to Pakistan since 2002, $1 billion spent on the war in Libya, $6.7 billion per month in Afghanistan.
Federal funds spent on adaptive vans for amputee service members? With limited VA funds available, most of that money comes from the private sector.
Federal funds spent on adaptive housing for quadriplegic service members? Dream on.
With all the billions being spent, why must our wounded depend on private donations to resume productive lives? Where are the public funds for the best wheelchair, the best van and a house where they can do the daily activities of life?
Who pays for their families to be at their bedsides? Who watches the kids while the spouse rushes to Walter Reed or Bethesda? Who pays for the hotels and air fare?
The funds come from the private sector, from nonprofits like the Semper Fi Fund.
ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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