Bernard joined the Navy in 2000 and, after studying aviation structural/hydraulics, deployed to Afghanistan twice with SEAL Team 3, first shortly after 9/11, and for a second time in 2003. His service took him to Japan, to California, and, in 2008, to Iraq for two deployments – he was injured by a car bomb in Sadr City in December 2008.
In late-2010, the Navy sent Bernard to school for parachute rigging and jumping so he could work as a special operations rigger with SEAL Team 3. In March 2012, he was injured while preparing to return to Afghanistan.
“I was jumping from a helicopter. I broke a lot of bones and my injuries turned into a central nervous system disease for which there is no cure.”
Bernard suffers from CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome), also known as RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy). “I spent more than two years in rehabilitation,” Bernard says. “I have to use a wheelchair to get around.”
America’s Fund has provided Bernard with various types of support, including the purchase of an indoor/outdoor power wheelchair, supplies for his service dog, an Alpha-Stim device (to assist with pain control), a front-loading washer and dryer (so he could do his own laundry from his wheelchair), and transition assistance following discharge from the Navy.
Bernard officially retired from the Navy on September 30, 2014. Today, this married father of three is focused on his recovery and enjoying time with his family.