CPT Jae B: On the Right Track

Retired Army Captain Jae B. says, “Tough times don’t last, but tough men do.”

On August 19, 2006 in Afghanistan, an IED exploded under Jae's vehicle, killing three fellow soldiers and burning over 50% of his body. He woke up four days later in San Antonio, Texas, at the Brooke Army Medical Center ICU.

Jae’s wife, Sierra, was 37 weeks pregnant when she got the call that he was injured. Six days later, she delivered a healthy baby. Three days after the birth, she traveled to BAMC to be at Jae’s bedside.

“When I first got the call, my mother-in-law said, `I want you to hear these three words JAE IS ALIVE.’ It was a blur of a couple of days, and I remember the helpless and devastating feelings of that time.”

Recovering from burns is a long process. Jae has had over 50 different reconstructive surgeries to correct facial and hand disfigurement and still needs a few more for his hands. During his recovery to what he calls “my new normal,” he has learned to adapt to the disabilities and has learned new ways to accomplish everyday tasks.

“Recovering from burns is not like losing a leg or an arm where you instantly know what you have and don’t have. Burns take years to mature, and the rehabilitation that is needed is a daily grind. It’s been a struggle at times, but I think I’m on the right track.”

Jae heard about the Semper Fi & America’s Fund from a friend who is a Marine and was also recovering at the same time from being wounded. His friend encouraged him to reach out to The Fund.

“The Semper Fi & America’s Fund has provided so much for my family and me. They provided us with a mattress that stays cool to help keep my body temperature regulated while recovering from burns, and a home generator that will keep my home cool in the event of a power outage. That is critical in Houston, Texas. The Fund didn’t just provide items; they sent my children to kids camp to be with the children of other wounded service members who would understand what mine were going through.”

Jae’s wife Sierra attended a Semper Fi & America’s Fund Caregiver Retreat with others caring for similarly wounded Service Members.

“It was wonderful to see that others—though all in different periods of post-injury—are in the same boat as you. The retreat was incredibly beneficial in so many ways. Most importantly, we see we are not alone.”

Jae says the Semper Fi & America’s Fund is the gold standard of military nonprofits. “Being severely wounded, I have seen a ton of different nonprofits. The Fund sets the bar for all the others to try and reach.”