“The opportunity to start a family business is just unbelievable. The Semper Fi Fund has been saving lives since they started — and I know they have changed, saved and made my life meaningful again.”
                                                                       - Luis

Luis and Olivia establish Joselle's Bakery

"Semper Fi Fund assisted with startup equipment for our business."

When customers visit Joselle’s Bakery in Temecula, California, to stock up on treats for Valentine’s Day, they’ll be supporting 20-year Navy veteran Luis and his pastry-chef wife, Olivia, who established their tasty business through the assistance of the Semper Fi Fund Apprenticeship Program.

"The Semper Fi Fund is so proud of Luis and Olivia for pursuing their passion and working hard throughout the apprenticeship program to make their dream a reality,” said Semper Fi Fund President, CEO & Founder Karen Guenther.

Luis: “Semper Fi Fund assisted with startup equipment for our business,” says Luis, a native of the Philippines who was raised in San Diego and joined the Navy when he was 18. “This is very important, because you need the right tools to do what you love to do.”

Luis Surla and wife Olivia at their bakery
Luis and Olivia at the San Diego Culinary Institute for Pastry’s pre-graduation showcase of student masterpieces.

As a teenager, long before even thinking about having a bakery, Luis enrolled in the Navy’s delayed entry program. He left for boot camp on June 26, 1995, just 10 days after graduating high school. His first deployment came in 2000 when he was sent to Iraq with the 2nd Battalion 1st Marines in support of Operation Desert Shield. He later deployed again to Iraq, where he served as a Navy Corpsman in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom — and where he was also injured.

Luis: “My last three years were very tough on everyone,” he said. “I was in and out of the hospital. The Navy decided that I could retire at 20 years of service if I continued with therapy. I knew that life after the military would be different — the loss of memory, pain that wasn’t there before or that I ignored enough to keep going — but I really didn't have any plans.”

This is where the Semper Fi Fund stepped in to help Luis and his family adapt and recover to life after his service to the Navy.

Last April, as part of his recovery, Luis attend his first clinic with the Semper Fi Fund’s Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program. While there, he learned of the Semper Fi Fund’s Apprenticeship Program, which enabled him to start his own business and build it with his wife.

Luis: “The Semper Fi Fund has continued to support me in my recovery through various recreational therapy events where I have been able to connect with my peers. They helped me to realize that I’m not alone in this difficult process of living with my wounds.”

Click HERE to learn more about Luis and Olivia's story.