Having a Team Makes all the Difference

Marine Corporal Timothy R. always wanted to be a US Marine. Shortly after his high school graduation in 2007, he shipped out to boot camp.

In August 2010 with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines in Afghanistan, Corporal R. suffered a gunshot wound to the leg during an intense encounter with the Taliban. Timothy had the option to return home or stay in theater after treatment, and he chose to return to combat with his platoon. While on patrol in October 2010, he stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device.

“We were on a presence patrol and on our return to base. My sergeant told me to get in line with him, and as I was walking up, he said `Don’t step right…’ There was a thud and then ringing in my ears as I flew through the air. I thought, `No, this couldn’t be me.' But it was. I was ready to die, but my Marines did not see it that way. They told me to keep my eyes open and stay awake.”

Timothy was medevaced and woke up in Germany. The blast resulted in an above the knee amputation of his left leg, a fractured right tibia, and injuries to his wrist and shoulder, as well as a traumatic brain injury and PTSD. He underwent numerous surgeries and physical rehabilitation at Walter Reed Medical Center. It was there that he first was introduced to the Semper Fi & America’s Fund.

“They flew my family and friends to see me in the hospital and helped with the hotel and rental car. They even rented a wheelchair so that during my recovery, my parents could take me out of the hospital for the day.”

Throughout his recovery, Semper Fi & America’s Fund has always been there to help with any needed assistance. In addition to home modifications for wheelchair access, The Fund also helped him with an accessible vehicle, and a left-handed guitar for music therapy.

Timothy’s service dog, Shadow, who also served in Afghanistan as a bomb dog, supports him on a daily basis. The Fund has provided Tim and Shadow with ongoing assistance such as veterinary care.

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“I had a rough transition—seeing the brutality of war really hit me hard. However, I am learning how to cope and grow as a person. I have a massive support system with my wife, my loyal companion, Shadow, my family, an incredible team of doctors, and the support of the Semper Fi & America’s Fund.”

Timothy met his wife in the prosthetics department of the VA hospital in Tampa, Florida where he was undergoing treatment.

“My wife is an angel from God. Spouses and caregivers are crucial to the productivity and well-being of the veterans returning from combat. My wife has attended some of The Fund's Caregiver Retreats. She always comes home feeling very refreshed and rejuvenated, and she raves about how connected she feels to the other caregivers. The retreats provide so many resources she can apply to our everyday life.”

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After medical retirement, Timothy set his sights on the future. A transition grant from The Fund helped him move from active duty Marine to a retired veteran. An education grant helped with additional school expenses not covered under the GI Bill.

“I just finished my Associate of Arts degree at Pasco-Hernando State College and will be transferring to Saint Leo University to work on a software engineering degree. I’ll be able to diagnose automobiles with high-tech computer systems.”

“All the support I have received from The Fund helps me remember that life is not about the number of breaths you take; it’s the number of moments that take your breath away.”