Veteran Non-Profit Celebrates Milestone Anniversary, Looks Ahead to Next 10 Years
Camp Pendleton, CA (May 16, 2014) This month, the Semper Fi Fund celebrates 10 Inspiring Years of Service, a milestone anniversary for the veteran non-profit. Since 2004, the Semper Fi Fund has helped more than 11,500 post-9/11 service members and their families with a wide range of assistance totaling more than $91 million. While the numbers are impressive, they’re just the smallest part of what they’ve accomplished.
Ten years ago, a small group of Marine spouses including CEO and Founder Karen Guenther were inspired to help in ways that only a military wife could understand: making sure that a family could be at the bedside of an injured loved one for as long as they needed; helping with adaptive housing or transportation for a service member who lost a limb; providing specialized equipment to increase independence; and countless other ways.
“Our pledge is to never stop serving those who serve us all,” Guenther says, “We’re here for the whole family—not just at the moment of hospitalization or immediate crisis, but through recovery and beyond.”
The ongoing commitment of the Semper Fi Fund to service members and their families has earned them the highest possible ratings: four stars from Charity Navigator and an A+ from CharityWatch. The Semper Fi Fund’s overhead is extremely low—even today, it stands at just 6%, which is all the more impressive considering that the organization has expanded to include:
• Wide-ranging assistance Including family support, adaptive housing, adaptive transportation, specialized equipment, education and career transitioning
• America’s Fund, established in 2012 to help service members and families in all branches of the military
• The Peter Murphy Semper Fi Fund Sports Program—A comprehensive program of recovery through sports that includes Team Semper Fi and Team America’s Fund
• Additional support programs including: the Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program, Tim and Sandy Day Canine Companions, and the Semper Fi Fund Odyssey Camp for transition assistance.
But the real story belongs to the remarkable service members and families who have become part of the Semper Fi Fund family. From enlistment to injury to recovery and beyond, their journey provides insight into an exceptional level of human resilience and determination that inspires us all.
Like Sergeant Christopher Fesmire. Born and raised in a Philadelphia suburb, Chris had just left Penn State when he decided to join the Marines. “I wanted to get out and see the world,” he said. “I wanted some excitement and adventure.”
On October 10, 2004, Chris was on security patrol in the al-Anbar Province of Iraq. It was his fourth deployment. The Humvee he was in hit an anti-tank mine and claimed both his legs.
“I was introduced to the Semper Fi fund when I received a surprise grant one day at Walter Reed. I’ve received a lot of assistance [from them] over the last 9 ½ years, for things like adaptive sports equipment and a Tempur-Pedic bed to help with the pain.”
Or Staff Sergeant Andy Robinson, who was changed by combat in some of the most profound ways imaginable. He was on patrol in al-Anbar Province in Iraq on June 20, 2006, when insurgents detonated an improvised explosive device beneath his truck, leaving him a quadriplegic.
“When you join the military,” Andy says, “the thought of sacrificing your life for your country, for your brothers in arms, crosses most service members’ minds. What many don’t think of—or don’t think of as often—is the possibility of sustaining lasting significant injuries, both physical and psychological.”
“The Semper Fi Fund was there from the beginning of my recovery,” Andy says. “They assisted in paying for my family to travel to see me while I was in the hospital. They helped pay for my first adapted vehicle that accommodated my wheelchair.” And through Team Semper Fi, Andy got involved with competitive sports; the Semper Fi Fund provided him with a handcycle and racing wheelchair, plus work-out equipment so he could train in his home.
The Semper Fi Fund also contributed $50,000 to his fully adapted home, and purchased an Action Trackchair for him, making it possible to move across grass, snow, sand—and most importantly, play with his two-year old twins. “The first time I used my Trackchair on the beach, I broke into tears—I was out on the sand, chasing seagulls with my kids, and we were all laughing and having a great time. What could be better than that?”
As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Semper Fi Fund and look ahead to providing more assistance in the years ahead, we hope you’ll join us in taking some time to learn a little more about the heroes we help.
About Semper Fi Fund and America’s Fund
Semper Fi Fund, and its program America's Fund, are set up to provide immediate financial assistance and lifetime support for injured, critically ill and wounded members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families, directing urgently needed resources to post-9/11 service members of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Reserves. Semper Fi Fund has been working with wounded service members since 2004, offering assistance to lessen the burden for those who need it most. The Semper Fi Fund's streamlined structure keeps overhead very low, 6%; they are also one of three veteran charities to receive an "A+" rating from CharityWatch and a "Four Star" rating from Charity Navigator.
The Semper Fi Fund has given more than 71,500 grants totaling $91 million+ to over 11,500 service members and their families. For more information visit https://SemperFiFund.org/