Sharing our stories in honor of Veterans Day: Staff Sergeant Courtney Petersen

November 12th, 2012

Staff Sergeant Courtney "Corey" Petersen (Ret.) was injured in 2007, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down. During her month-long stay in intensive care, The Semper Fi Fund assisted Corey's husband to ensure that he had the resources needed to care for his wife.

"Sometimes you can do everything right, plan, take safety precautions, and accidents will still happen. I am an example of this as I wasn't drinking, wasn't doing anything excess, and had brand new safety equipment.

Corey Peterson with her dog Tinkers

In February 2007, while on a weekend trip up to Wisconsin with another Marine couple, I fell off my snowmobile and was ran over by the Marine behind me. His snowmobile shattered my T5 vertebrae, collapsed both my lungs, broke six ribs, and required a tracheotomy. I survived the hour-long wait for an ambulance due to the first aide knowledge that the Marine Corps provided to my active-duty Marine husband and our friend. After a month of intensive care, I woke up to find out that I would be paralyzed from the armpits down...The Semper Fi Fund contacted my husband and asked how could they help."

The Semper Fi Fund provided grants for household needs, such as ramps, and later offered a grant for Corey's dogs, Teddy and Tinkers, to be trained as therapy dogs. Corey now pays it forward by visiting newly injured patients at the hospital with Teddy and Tinkers. During these visits, Corey has the opportunity to share her own story and inspire fellow service members to live fulfilling lives despite the daily challenges that accompany severe injuries.

Corey Peterson and Team Semper Fi

Corey is an active member of Team Semper Fi, the Semper Fi Fund's "Recovery Through Sport" program. She has participated in numerous events, breaking her own records year after year and earning recognition for her accomplishments. Team Semper Fi has been a great avenue for recovery and camaraderie with fellow injured service men and women.

"I have now participated in more sports disabled than I ever did able-bodied. I've been skiing, biking, rock climbing, boating, and surfing. Yes, a female Staff Sergeant from Iowa who is paralyzed from the chest down has been surfing! All due to the Semper Fi Fund. I owe them my life beyond the medical aided needs. They've made my life exciting to live."

Corey Peterson

Corey Peterson participated in this year's Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.

Corey was crowned Ms. Wheelchair California 2011 – Read the story.