Cpl Colin Faust
While serving in Afghanistan, Marine Cpl Colin Faust suffered an IED blast which changed his life forever. Colin’s injuries were severe. His left leg was amputated above the knee. His right leg was severely damaged as was his left lower arm. After countless surgeries, skin grafts, and months of grueling rehabilitation, Colin is still in the fight for recovery!
We recently asked Colin’s Mom, Sonja, to bring us up to date on his progress. Here’s what Sonja Faust had to say about this determined and focused young man:
1. How is Colin’s recovery progressing?
“Rehabilitation is rigorous and Colin diligently and patiently works about 4 1/2 hours each day with the physical and occupational therapists and the prosthetists. In just the past couple of weeks, he has begun walking again! His salvaged and very damaged, right leg is gaining strength and he has also been “casted” for a new brace that will hopefully help him achieve his goals.”
Colin working hard at rehab!
2.What has been the most difficult thing about the recovery process and how have you overcome it?
For Colin? “Colin has a deep faith, an indomitable will and quiet strength that I have never seen before. He never complained once, but was worried about his brothers still in the fight in Sangin, Afghanistan even while he continued his fight from his hospital bed. Even with his strength, of course, reality does become reality. Each and every day, he got up and faced the challenges ahead of him, some were honestly pretty tough. Although he has no regrets, accepting that his life will no longer be what he thought it would be was a process that brought on some pretty tough days. To overcome this, he is finding his inner strength and through his faith, the days become brighter and is learning to accept the limitations from the injuries. He is continuing to learn what those limitations will be and has set challenging goals, and has recently been promoted to Sgt. Colin knows that he will be able to enjoy activities that he used to, only in a modified way. He has a very bright future!”
For you as a Caregiver? “Honestly, we have been given a gift of all the strength we have needed each and every day. When one of us felt weak, someone was ALWAYS there to hold us up. We worried about the financial aspect and how to manage our business since we are self- employed being so far from home. We also worried about our other two children and how this would affect them and how we could be together as much as possible to work through it all. Colin’s injuries were very severe and continued to be life threatening even after transferring to National Naval Medical Center. All we could think about was each day – one at a time – and what medical issues there were that day and Colin’s pain and suffering. Looking too far forward was just overwhelming. To overcome this, we had the blessing of the support of all those who cared and simply helped us out in a multitude of ways…It is a truth that one needs to learn how to be a gracious receiver and this is not easy to learn. We quickly realized that we did need help and that we could not do this alone. Accepting help, with the promise to pay it forward, from the Semper Fi Fund and others was a God Send.”
Our Family Christmas Card!
3. While at the hospital, did you receive any services or assistance that you were not expecting? “Oh absolutely YES!!! We are grateful for the assistance that Semper Fi Fund provides as our injured son continues to rehabilitate. It is clear that great thought is put into knowing what our Marines need as they continue through their individual journeys. Our son was at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda , MD for 3 months. He spent about 50% of his days in the ICU. After 3 months, he was transferred to the Minneapolis VA Hospital in Minnesota for another 3 months of in-patient care. Being from Minnesota, we were in a whole new world at Bethesda and before we even knew what we needed, Janine Canty, a Semper Fi Fund case worker, was there assisting us in a very respectful, genuinely caring and positive manner.
From the first days of our journey, they made sure we knew the Semper Fi Fund was there for us. They provided a “welcome package” of t-shirts and fleece jackets; assistance with travel so that we could be at his bedside and assistance to maintain our self-employed business. Once we were home in Minnesota, Janine kept in contact and assisted Colin and our family. Colin is beyond appreciative of the automobile grant he received which allows him INDEPENDENCE again! Today, it is difficult having him so far away from us after caring for him on a daily basis for over a year, but the Semper Fi Fund has come through again and assists us with travel expenses so that we can continue to be part of our son and brother’s rehabilitation process.”
Colin - Thumbs Up!
4. What would you like other families of our injured veterans to know about the process of recovery? “Have great patience and great hope, and trust your faith. It truly is an absolute blessing to have our Colin. Every day when we wake, we are thankful for his life and all the blessings that have resulted from his injury. It is a very long process, but one cannot look too far ahead. A very wise and loving ICU nurse had wonderful advice for us one day…always hope for a “managed” day. That is, a day that can be “managed” no matter what the circumstances or events may hold. Days may be long and gut wrenching at times, but when you experience wonderful news or see your Marine walk again for the first time, the joy is immeasurable. Again, trust your faith and have great patience and great hope-each day is a blessing!”
5. What would you like the public or our supporters to know about the process of recovery? “Support in all forms is absolutely invaluable…not only financial, but notes & cards, kind gestures and a simple “I care”. There are so many ways to show support… we had a neighbor come by with steaks for a Memorial Day weekend BBQ and another neighbor understood how our empty nest felt and dropped by with a bottle of wine. Both so very thoughtful! When Colin was transferred to the Minneapolis VA in January of 2011, it was another adjustment to be able to be with him at the hospital, live at our home again, and to have the ability to get through our “tax season” (we are self- employed and have an accounting and tax practice). Friends and church members fed us all tax season and brought us meals several times a week! It may seem like providing a meal may not be doing “much” to the person giving the meal, but to us it was very much appreciated gift. Lastly and most importantly, the process is not a short one – it is a very long journey. Being healthy, one takes for granted the ability to walk and move around in most any terrains or environment or the ability to maneuver one’s own home. Not so for our injured. Going out in public takes planning…Parking? Elevators? Crowds? Weather? Steps? Wheel chair friendly? Restrooms? Our injured now have new skills to learn in order to manage daily living and this takes time. Please remember our injured and thank them for their service. Most will be very humble, but know that it does mean a lot to them to be remembered. Without their service, we would not have the privilege of our freedoms and safe American soil.”
Colin at the 3/5 Marine Corp Ball
6. What was the most inspiring thing you saw or experienced during Colin’s recovery? “Oh wow…so many come to mind… Good deeds…genuine, true, heartfelt KINDNESS in so many ways…But this is beyond inspiring…Shortly before Christmas, a complete and wonderful stranger appeared at our door step. A young man, 30ish?, greeted me and confirmed that he was at the home of Sgt. Colin Faust. I told him yes, that I was Colin’s mom and asked who he was. He then handed me a plastic grocery bag and proceeded to quickly walk away as I was attempting to say thank you and again ask who he was. He turned and responded, “No…THANK YOU…and Merry Christmas!” Inside the bag, we found live lobster, Porterhouse steak, a 6 pack of Budweiser, a financial gift and a thank you note topped with a red bow. The note said “Semper Fidelis, Sum Custodias Mei Fratris, Merry Christmas” which is Latin for “Always Faithful, I am my brother’s keeper.” Who this Christmas Angel was, we will never know and his kindness and thoughtfulness filled our hearts over and over again. Was he a Marine? Again, we will never know but that is not what is important. We shared this story on Colin’s Caring Bridge website and in our local paper, and the reaction was unbelievable. It will never be known how many other acts of genuine kindness were shared and hearts filled because of his inspiring kind deed. If I may add, this caring and support he provided seems to be in the same sense that the SemperFi Fund provides to our wounded Marines and their families and we could not possibly be more appreciative. We have a lifetime of good deeds to pay forward!”
SHARE THE LOVE
We want to thank Sonja Faust for sharing her story. Colin and his family continue to be an inspiration for many!
Perhaps you have your own inspirational recovery story.
We invite you to “Share your Love” by telling us your own story of courage, compassion and hope!
You may have an inspiring personal story, or you may want to share your experience with the Semper Fi Fund. Whatever the case, please share…your story will give hope to others facing similar challenges!