On Veteran’s Day my radio show featured interviews with more than a dozen seriously wounded Marines and Navy personnel who are beneficiaries of the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund (www.SemperFiFund.org.)
Since its founding in 2003, the Semper Fi Fund has raised more than $55 million to help more than 6,000 service members wounded in the wars of the past decade. Take a quick look at their board of directors and you will quickly see why this organization is so effective and also why you need have no concern over its integrity or the efficiency of its operations.
There are many, many other fine groups helping the wounded and the families of the fallen, whether Fisher House or Soldiers’ Angels, the Wounded Warrior Project or the Gary Sinese Foundation. All are terrific groups, very well-managed, and do immeasurable good in the name of thanking those who have sacrificed so much for our safety and the preservation of our country.
I married a daughter of the USMC, though, and my career-officers father-in-law and brother-in-law gave extended tutorials to the civilian in their midst, so those lessons and proximity to Camp Pendleton helped create a broadcast relationship with the Semper Fi Fund which my audience treasures. Every Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day for many years are spent on air talking to the wounded and their families.
Thousands and thousands of the audience have sent tens of thousands of dollars in amounts small and large to help in the work of getting a van for warrior who has lost his legs, or paying to fly mom to the bedside of a seriously wounded young Marine, or helping with the expenses of a young family confronted with the just the gas costs of making trips to the various extraordinary military hospital complexes around the country.
The country’s formal benefits to its wounded and the families of the fallen are good and generous, but they cannot and do not cover the vast set of needs for the men and women who come back from distant wars with a different life ahead of them than when they deployed.
My interviews with these warriors are always –always—inspiring. One young corporal this past Veterans’ Day had gone through 117 surgeries and was looking at many more, but he was upbeat and had just returned from a gathering of his comrades at the Marine Corps Marathon, where dozens of members of Team Semper Fi –some in wheel chairs, others on bikes and many running one new legs—had triumphed over the 26.2 mile course.
Others had family members speak for them, to detail the courage and the determination of the se warriors. These wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters are heroes themselves, loving caring, pushing and pulling and above all encouraging their soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in their recoveries.
So on this Thanksgiving, when heads bow and prayers are said of genuine gratitude for the blessings we all enjoy because we are all Americans, add a prayer and a thought for the millions of men and women who are serving around the world, gathering in halls from Kosovo to Djibouti, from Kabul to Baghdad, from Fort Carson in the shadow of the Rockies to thousands of feet below the sea.
Keep at the front of the list those who are without their loved ones who are in the mansions of the Lord already and right behind them those who are recovering from wounds suffered for you and me.
And as you settle down to turkey-induced haze and football, perhaps visit one of these wonderful groups and make your first expenditure of the holiday season one that says Thank You to the guardians on the wall.