Turning Compassion into Action
We build upon our history of success to deliver even greater impact tomorrow.
A Timeline of Our History
2003 Medevacs Land at Camp Pendleton
Our story began in the spring of 2003. Just back from Operation Iraqi Freedom, the first wave of wounded Marines and Sailors landed at Camp Pendleton, California. A dedicated group of Marine spouses began to organize welcome home activities at the hospital. They arranged travel for family members who couldn’t afford airfare. They provided a specialized van for a Marine who is now a quadriplegic through the generosity of donors like retired Marine Colonel Jack Kelly. The group assembled and distributed care bags filled with toiletries and phone cards. And still, the injured kept coming.
2004 President George W. Bush Acknowledges Semper Fi Fund
“Here at Camp Pendleton, a nurse named Karen Guenther saw the financial strain on the families of the injured sailors and marines. Many spent weeks, even months away from home, standing by their loved ones recovering at a military hospital. They struggle with the cost of food and lodging and travel and lost income. So she and other Marine spouses started the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund to raise money for those struggling military families.”
2004 Semper Fi Fund is Born
May 17, 2004 Semper Fi Fund is born. The following day, Karen Guenther and Dawn Olsen pick up Semper Fi Fund Incorporation Papers at the San Diego Court House. The efforts of 1st Marine Division Marine spouses during the past year have evolved into a national 501 ( c ) 3 nonprofit—The Semper Fi Fund!
2005 Semper Fi Fund Supports Caregivers
Semper Fi Fund recognizes the toll that caregivers face in the day-to-day reality of caring for wounded, ill and injured Service members. Semper Fi Fund steps in to help by providing support, education and resources for caregivers.
2005 Semper Fi Fund Featured in Cookie Magazine
Cookie Magazine announced three Semper Fi Fund women as recipients of the first-ever Smart Cookie Award, which recognizes and supports mothers in the business, philanthropy, and celebrity worlds who are making outstanding contributions to women's and children's causes around the globe.
2006 Team Semper Fi is Created
Team Semper Fi created. First sports team made up of wounded Marines and Sailors. Recovery Through Sport launches with 8 members and has grown to include more than 1,800 Service members representing all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Team Semper Fi was named after Peter Murphy, SFF Board member and Counsel to the Commandant from 1984 to 2004. History of Team Semper Fi.
2007 Bob Hope Spirit of Hope Award
Semper Fi Fund received the Spirit of Hope Award at a Pentagon ceremony in which all branches of the service were recognized. The award, established by the Hope Family Foundation in 1997 in honor of Bob Hope, is for patriotism and service reflecting the essence of Bob Hope’s dedication to those in the Armed Forces.
2008 Semper Fi Fund Introduces Cover Me
First documentary showing Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) military leadership talking about PTSD.
2010 Highest Rating Granted by Charity Watchdogs
Semper Fi Fund was rated an A+ by CharityWatch and 4-Star by Charity Navigator, the highest rating awarded by each of these watchdogs. We have maintained these top grades ever since.
2010 Team Semper Fi Fund Members Compete in 1st Warrior Games
The Warrior Games is a multi-sport event for wounded, injured or ill service personnel and veterans.
2011 Semper Fi Fund Provides $50 Million in Assistance
Semper Fi Fund celebrates reaching $50 Million in assistance for post 9/11 wounded, ill, and injured Service members and families.
2012 Tim and Sandy Day Canine Companions is Founded
The Tim & Sandy Day Canine Companions program is created to unite injured and critically ill Service members with service dogs. Sponsored by the Timothy T. Day Foundation, it also ensures that dogs are properly trained and related expenses in caring for their service dog is provided.
2012 Bob & Renee Parsons First Donation Match Challenge
GoDaddy hosted a huge year-end Holiday party at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ where Bob and Renee Parsons presented Semper Fi Fund with checks totaling $2 million. The first $1 million check came from generous donors, including GoDaddy customers, the second $1 million check represented the matching funds from GoDaddy and The Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation who began their United States Marine Corps 237th birthday tribute with matching gifts campaign in November.
2012 Help for All Branches is Provided
America’s Fund program started to open up Semper Fi Fund assistance to all Service branches. Mr. Kyle Strandquist gives first large donation to seed America’s Fund efforts.
2012 Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program Begins
Dedicated in memory of Colonel Jinx McCain, USMC, a 4-time Purple Heart recipient, this acclaimed riding program provides confidence-building horsemanship clinics to wounded Service members and their families across the nation.
2012 Karen Guenther Appears on Oprah’s Favorite Things
Karen Guenther, for her work with the Semper Fi Fund, was selected to appear on Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) as part of an unsuspecting group of military spouses who have done amazing things in their community.
2013 Veteran 2 Veteran Program (V2V) is Introduced
Working closely with case managers, the Veterans Integrated Services Network and VA Healthcare providers, V2V is created to train and empower veterans to help their peers make a smoother transition back to civilian life.
2014 Unit Reunions Commence
What is a Unit Reunion? When a military unit faces combat, the members of that unit rely on each other to overcome the challenges of war, and, during the process, they form a bond unlike any other. However, once the unit returns home, service members move on to other duty assignments or transition out of the military, leaving very little time for the group to process the events they have experienced. A Semper Fi Fund Unit Reunion reunites the members of a military unit in a safe, stigma-free environment so they can reconnect, remember, and recover together.
2014 Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Distinguished Civilian Humanitarian Award
Semper Fi Fund Founder, Karen Guenther, was named the recipient of the 2013 Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Distinguished Civilian Humanitarian Service Award. Given just once a year, the award is a multi-service recognition presented to an individual or organization demonstrating exceptional patriotism and humanitarian concern for members of the Armed Forces or their families. The Award was named in honor of Fisher House founders Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher. Zachary, the son of a Lithuanian immigrant, considered it an immense privilege to live in this country, and together with his wife Elizabeth, spent his life repaying the “debt” he felt he owed to our nation’s military, giving back to the men and women who serve.
2015 Semper Fi Fund Hits $100 Millon Milestone
Semper Fi Fund announced they had crossed the $100 million mark in providing assistance to wounded, critically ill and injured Service members and their families.
2015 Dr. Robert Koffman Joins Semper Fi Fund
Dr. Robert Koffman, whose operational mental health expertise is unparalleled in Navy medicine, joins the staff as Semper Fi Fund Director of Wellness. A retired Navy Captain and subject matter expert in deployment health, Dr. Koffman dedicates himself to helping the Semper Fi Fund's holistic support of our warriors and their families.
2015 The Apprenticeship Program is Created
This program is initiated to assist Service members in preparing for and finding meaningful trades, careers, or small business opportunities through short-term vocational education and apprenticeships with trade experts.
2017 Semper Fi Fund Provides $150 Million in Assistance
Semper Fi Fund celebrates another major milestone by announcing $150 Million in assistance to Service members of all branches of the Armed Forces.
2017 Platinum Rating by GuideStar
Semper Fi Fund celebrates GuideStar’s Platinum rating, demonstrating our commitment to transparency.
2017 NeuroFitness Program Begins
An innovative part of Semper Fi Fund’s Wellness Program, NeuroFitness is added to provide neurofeedback training. This helps to restore cognitive function, improve memory, manage pain and assist with other stress-related issues.
2017 US Special Operations Command Patriot Award
General Thomas presented the Semper Fi Fund's America's Fund program with the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Patriot Award for exceptional and enduring contributions to the welfare of Special Operations Command wounded warriors and their families.
2018 Launched the LCpl Bob Parsons Welcome Home Fund
The program will expand our mission to care for veterans from all US military service branches who are catastrophically injured from combat operations in Vietnam.
2019 Launched the Visiting Nurses Program
The Semper Fi Fund & America’s Fund Visiting Nurse Program provides support to Service members and Veterans of all five service branches as deemed eligible by the Fund’s guidelines.
The Visiting Nurse program provides emotional support, assistance in the development of coping skills, identifies health and wellness needs, gaps in care, and barriers to using a self-care management model. The goal of the Visiting Nurse program is to create a framework of support to improve overall Service member and Veteran and family health and wellness.
2020 COVID-19 Response
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of our Service Members faced higher unemployment, limited access to medical care and personal necessities, and increased social isolation. These challenges threatened the mental and physical health of our Veterans, especially those with pre-existing conditions. Semper Fi & America’s Fund had boots on the ground and took action to ensure our Service Members and Families knew they were not alone. With over 16 years of experience as a virtual nonprofit, we were well-prepared to meet the challenges of the pandemic.
2021 Vail Veterans Program Incorporated into The Fund
In 2004, Cheryl Jensen founded Vail Veterans Program (VVP) as a skiing experience benefitting seven wounded veterans in Vail, CO. For nearly two decades, Cheryl harnessed the healing power of the mountains and support from the Vail Valley's community of volunteers, donors, and partners to grow VVP into a robust organization and world-class program for veterans and families. Since its inception, VVP has cumulatively served and impacted the lives of 3,500 service members and families, deploying over $17 million in resources. Seeking to expand and deepen its impact on the veteran community, and in light of a shared focus on serving wounded, ill, and injured veterans, VVP transferred its core program operations to Semper Fi & America's Fund in 2021. VVP's nationally renowned programs in the Vail Valley will live on as key components of Semper Fi & America's Fund Veterans and their families will continue to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges, build internal strength and self-encouragement, and transform their daily approach to life for years to come.
for Post-Traumatic Growth
Every day, the Semper Fi Fund & America’s Fund experience lives transformed by hope. Deeply inspired by the courage and determination of Service Members and their families to overcome adversity, we take concrete steps to show them a new way forward; Post Traumatic Growth.
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