To Iraq and Back: One injured Marine adapts to a “new normal” in a post 9/11 world.

September 13th, 2011
Justin Constantine and wife, Dahlia. Photo provided by JMU. 

With a single pull of a sniper's trigger, Marine Justin Constantine's life was forever changed.  Justin was shot on Oct. 18, 2006, six weeks after being deployed to Iraq. Thanks to his fellow Marines and the courage and skills of a U.S. Navy corpsman, Justin survived.  The Semper Fi Fund was honored to assist his girlfriend, Dahlia, with travel  so that she could be at his side throughout his recovery.  They have since married!  Now, nearly 10 years after 9/11 and five years after his injury, Justin has adapted to a "new normal," and he and Dahlia are working to help others do the same.

Justin Constantine, a Major in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, has been awarded a Purple Heart Medal.   He is a fellow with the Truman National Security Project and also serves on a Congressionally-mandated Task Force for Wounded Warriors.

When asked about his recovery, Justin says "Although I can play golf and exercise and have successfully adapted to my "new normal;" the personal costs are significant and long-lasting. It has been five years since I was shot, and I cannot see out of my left eye, cannot always speak clearly, have difficulty running due to the missing bones in my legs, and periodically struggle with behavioral health issues, including not only PTSD but mild traumatic brain injury (TBI)."  Read more about Justin's recovery here.

"However, I am only one wounded warrior, and there are almost 44,000 just like me from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone. That means 44,000 families uprooted with lives turned upside down and 44,000 warriors who will spend years reintegrating into society and adapting to their new normal."

This realization prompted Justin to turn his injury into something positive, and to use what he has learned to help other wounded warriors.   See his website,  To Iraq and Back, to learn how he began providing motivating t-shirts to our wounded warriors and their families while donating a portion of the proceeds to organizations like The Semper Fi Fund  who support and assist today’s American warriors.

With the anniversary of 9/11 upon us, Justin looks back and remembers the price paid by our wounded warriors, their families, and the relatives of those who sacrificed their lives in defense of our country.    He has found a sense of purpose in helping others find hope.

As we look back on 9/11, let us follow Justin's lead.  We too can find ways to remember and honor those who have served our country so that other injured heroes can look forward with hope and their own sense of purpose.  Join us as we serve those who have sacrificed so much in the name of our freedom! 

Here's how you can help: 

1. Learn more about Justin Constantine's inspiring story.  

2. Read about other injured Heroes in the News and share their stories on Facebook and Twitter

3.  Get involved in a Community Semper Fi Event, or host your own!

4. Help us honor all those who have served since 911 by Donating Now