Semper Fi Fund helps veterans

wickedlocalnews photo kevin chambers
Marine Cpl. Kevin Chambers is home after a tour in Afghanistan. For now, he is stationed at the Home Base program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Courtesy photo.

By Bruce Coulter | Wicked Local| | September 16, 2011

Maynard — Kevin Chambers has been in the Marine Corps for five years. At his choosing, he was sworn in on Sept. 11, 2006 and left for boot camp at Parris Island, S.C.

As could be expected, Chambers was deployed to Afghanistan, in Helmand Province, from August 2008 to April 2009.

Kevin, who has been home since June 1, said he was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a result of repeated exposure to IED (improvised explosive devices) blasts while in Afghanistan with Alpha Co., Second Combat Engineer Battalion. He was part of the unit’s road clearance platoon.

“We were constantly out on the road looking for IEDs. We’d clear the road ahead of everybody else,” he said.

It was while his son was deployed that his father, Mike Chambers, learned about the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.

Mike said the fund aids men and women serving in all branches of military service.

“I was looking to do something in his honor and I looked at several different organizations to do a fundraiser for, and this organization had the highest percentage of money donated going directly to the troops,” said Mike. “At the time, 97 percent of the money donated went to the troops and 3 percent was marked for administrative costs.”

“I do this not just for my son, but for Maynard residents serving in the military,” he said.

Previously, Mike participated in other fundraisers for the fund. This year, a motorcycle ride will start at Boston Harley-Davidson in Everett and end at the Maynard Rod & Gun at 45 Oak Mill Road.

“The bikes will come in on Route 62 and take a right onto Waltham Street to the Rod & Gun Club. The bikes should be coming into Maynard around noon,” said Mike. This is the second bike run I have been involved in with Ink Jam Tattoo Studio at 12 Park Ave. in Arlington.”

Ink Jam is sponsoring the motorcycle ride.

“Jim Quinn, the owner of Ink Jam, and Amanda Ortiz who works at the studio, have done a lot of fundraising for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund and other local charities that support our troops.

“Quinn purchases all the T-shirts that we sell before and after the event and donates all the proceeds to the fund,” said Mike.

Mike said Quinn also donates merchandise from his business for raffles. Ortiz has a sister who is a corporal in the Marine Corps and just came back from a deployment in Afghanistan and is now stationed at Camp Pendleton. She has another sister who was in the Army and deployed to Iraq.

In addition to the motorcycle ride, Mike said there would also be a car show and contest, featuring hot rods and various makes and models.

A cookout will be held from 1-6 p.m. and will feature live music provided by the Super 8’s, basket raffles and hot dogs and hamburgers. There will also be a cash bar. The Maynard High School radio station WAVM will also provide music.

All of the money raised will be sent directly to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, said Mike.

Kevin said he was pleased with the efforts of the fund and thankful for the assistance he has received.

“I think it’s terrific. They’ve helped me out; helped me get home and got me a PDA to help with my short-term memory loss. I know a lot of my friends that were injured and the fund helped their families visit them in the hospitals,” he said. “It’s a great thing and I’ll continue to help out wherever I can.”

Mike said after Kevin was injured, he was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“The Semper Fi Fund arranged to get him a PDA to help him with short-term memory loss and they moved him back to Massachusetts in May so he could attend the Home Base program at Massachusetts General Hospital. The Marine Corps would not pay for him to come home because he is still on active duty,” said Mike.

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