Huntsville Real-Time News | Shelly Haskins | April 21, 2021 | Link to Article
Semper Fi & America’s Fund ‘always faithful’ to wounded Alabama veteran
Semper Fi. Always faithful.
Jae Barclay was in the Army, but he knows the meaning of that U.S. Marine slogan better than most.
On Aug. 19, 2006, Barclay, who now lives in Huntsville, was on a mission in Afghanistan instead of celebrating his first wedding anniversary with his wife, Sierra. The vehicle he was in hit an IED.
Only Barclay and the driver survived. Barclay was severely burned over 47% of his body.
Through nearly 15 years of recovery and 30-40 surgeries, a non-profit called the Semper Fi & America’s Fund has been “always faithful” to him and his family.
“Once you’re in, you’re family,” Barclay said of The Fund. “It’s not like they do a one-time thing and they move on.”
The Semper Fi & America’s Fund began in 2003 at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California, where a group of Marine spouses began to organize welcome home activities for wounded Marines. Then they raised money to provide a specialized van for a Marine who was rendered quadriplegic. Eighteen years later, that local effort has grown into a national nonprofit that helps wounded Marines and soldiers and sailors from all branches of the military, and has provided $250 million in support over its lifetime.
Barclay found out about The Fund in 2013, from a wounded Marine friend whose wife was a case manager for the Semper Fi & America’s Fund. Barclay applied, and he’s been part of the family ever since, he said.
He was living in hurricane-prone Houston, Texas, at the time, and the first thing the fund did for him was install a whole-home generator. Then they provided him a ductless air conditioning unit that would pump cool air directly into his room to keep his body temperature regulated. “It’s hard to do that with burn scars,” he said.
Then they landscaped his backyard, installed a pergola to keep him out of the sun, and a misting system to keep him cool so he could finally enjoy time outside with his wife and young children.
The Fund has continued to watch over him wherever he’s gone. He was an Army brat and traveled all over, but his parents were both from Scottsboro in north Alabama, so he settled down in Huntsville, where he works for a wholesale insurance company.
In Huntsville, The Fund installed the specialized HVAC system he needs, and partnered with Home Depot to do a makeover of his garage so that he has tools he can use with his injured hands.
The Fund has also sent his kids to summer camp with other children of wounded soldiers, who share the same experiences.
“If my kids need something, or my wife, they just take care of it,” Barclay said.
Thanks to the Semper Fi & America’s Fund, Barclay is able to spend less time worrying about his and his family’s needs, and more time at the ballpark watching his kids play softball and baseball. His 14-year-old daughter, Addison, is freshman at Huntsville High School, his 12-year-old son, Quenton, is at Hampton Cove Middle School and his 9-year-old daughter, Emerson, is at Hampton Cove Elementary.
Whether it’s job training or guitar lessons or a specialized vehicle a wounded veteran needs, Barclay said The Fund takes care of it.