Why did you enlist?
9/11 has a big part to do with it. I was a sophomore in high school at the time. I always had great pride in my country, but that day kind of solidified it. It was that day that I kind of determined that it wasn’t a matter of if I was going to join the military, it was just a matter of when — and when turned out to be 2006, about 2-1/2 years after I graduated from high school.
Can you tell us about the day you were injured?
We started off on a mission in the morning. I was in the lead Humvee. About 30-45 minutes in, my vehicle got hit by an EFP (explosive formed penetrator or projectile) IED (improvised explosive device). I remember everything from impact to getting on the medevac helicopter. My two buddies were killed instantly: Sergeant Blake S. and Specialist Kyle L. I was the only survivor. My injuries? Bilateral amputations of both my lower limbs, massive tissue loss in other places, traumatic brain injury and a flurry of other things. I was initially medevac’d to Baghdad. From there, they revived me enough to fly me to Landstuhl, Germany. Once they stabilized me — I was in an induced coma the whole time — they sent me to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. After that, I was sent to the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, which is where I did the majority of my rehabilitation.
How did you first learn about the Semper Fi Fund?
[Saul’s wife, Sarah:] Saul was at Walter Reed for about two months when the Army gave us the opportunity to be transferred to the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. Since we’re both from the same town in California, that was the best place because it was closer to our families. Almost immediately, we started seeing reps from the Semper Fi Fund around the hospital. Saul was only inpatient in San Diego for a few weeks, then was ready to be released and continue his recovery at home. We moved into Naval housing, but all our items from when we were living in Georgia were in storage. They put us on the expedite list, but that was still going to be almost two months before we would receive our household goods. Semper Fi Fund bought Saul a bed immediately so he could come home. It was, at that moment, the most helpful thing that anybody could have done for us.
You’ve received a wide variety of assistance from the Fund; can you tell us a little bit about the four-wheeler with snow plow attachment you received?
That thing has been such a godsend. My homeowner’s association is a stickler, and they really want you to clear your driveway the morning of a snow. There are definitely days where I don’t even feel like putting my legs on, much less going to plow a thousand-plus square feet of snow. But that thing, when I jump on the wheeler and plow, not only does it get it done efficiently and safely for me, but it also it saves my energy and legs for the rest of the day for more important things like work or for the kids. That’s the kind of impact that Semper Fi Fund has — that kind of consideration and thought that they put into every single case. Semper Fi Fund allows us to actually thrive and improve our quality of life.
How do you spend your days currently?
I have a full-time job. I am Director of Warrior Services for another nonprofit called Warriors and Quiet Waters. It’s a full 40-hour work week with a pretty hectic summer schedule of being out in the field taking wounded vets and combat vets out flying fishing.