William Boulton “The Semper Fi Fund is a perfect launch pad for those who need the extra boost”

Why did you enlist?

I had traveled to Brazil, New Zealand and Central America, and I came back to the United States in early 2002, shortly after 9/11. I tried a string of jobs, but I felt like I needed to contribute more. I was 26 years old and I wasn’t doing enough. About six months before I went to the enlistment, I had dreamt about it constantly. I can remember every single night having a dream about running with the Marines or with whoever; the dream went away after I enlisted, so I was listening to my inner self. I finally did what I needed to do.

What was your mission in the service?

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Born in:
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Raised in:
Ketchikan, Alaska
Enlisted in:
2006
Rank:
Sergeant E5
Units:
1st Battalion 5th Marines; 1st Battalion, 1st Marines; Wounded Warrior Battalion out of Camp Pendleton
Deployments:
Iraq (2007 and 2008), Manila (2009, with 13th Military Expeditionary Unit) and Afghanistan (2011)
Currently living in:
Temecula, California

I enlisted as a machine-gunner. In Iraq, our job was patrols and I was a squad leader. When I was with the 13th MEU, it was anti-piracy. When the Maersk Alabama was taken by pirates [the incident inspired the 2013 film “Captain Phillips”], I was on one of the ships that brought back the captain. I personally had nothing to do with the operation, but those types of operations were actually happening every single day.

Can you describe the types of trauma you experienced while serving?

I was in the vicinity of a lot of explosions. I had a lot of head trauma, like if a football player gets hit in the head quite a bit. I went through my deployment and I had a lot of traumatic experiences losing friends and witnessing death and destruction. When I came back, I was having a real rough time with PTSD and adjusting to my family. Part of it was the TBI from all those explosions. It was kind of residual. Your brain starts to bleed a little bit and it’s not apparent right away.

What sort of assistance has the Semper Fi Fund provided you and your family?

Initially I went to the Semper Fi Fund because I had two cars in the garage and no way to get to work, so they helped me out with car repairs. They also got me an iPad to help me out with my brain games. I was going through occupational therapy and trying to figure out how to remember stuff and get my brain muscle back to good functionality. We tailored the iPad just so I could play these games when I wasn’t actively in a therapy session. I’ll tell you what, it helped immensely. I know it’s just an iPad, people use it for a hundred million different things, but it just worked great, it really, really helped.

You’ve participated in several Semper Fi Fund golf outings; can you tell us a little about that?William Boulton4

They told me about this golf clinic in Alabama; a bunch of other combat vets were going, so I went too. Doorstep to doorstep, from the time I left my house until I came back, all that was paid for. All that was left for me to do was to enjoy myself and try and find something to take away from that experience. I met a lot of different vets. The conversation that we could all have together, the one that you can’t have with anyone else, that went on daily. I came back and immediately enrolled myself into the golf college here in Temecula, California. If I hadn’t accepted what I would call Semper Fi Fund’s challenge to get off the couch, I would have never made that decision to better myself. I tell people that the Semper Fi Fund is a perfect William Boulton3launch pad for those who need the extra boost. It’s taken me a long time to come back from Afghanistan. To have an organization that just comes out and gives you a big hug and says, ‘Look, there’s a better way, why don’t we get started?’ That’s what I tell people about.