America’s Heroes First Foundation presented its second grant ($35,000) to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. Specifically, the grant supported Semper Fi’s “America’s Fund,” which allows this wonderful organization the flexibility to render financial assistance outside the Navy and Marine Corps family—to members of all branches of our Armed Forces. The stories below illustrate the impact your payroll deduction donations have on the quality of life of countless military families. Thank you for your stalwart and generous support!
Staff Sergeant Travis Mills, U.S. Army:
“My life is not over. It just got a little more unique!”
On April 10, 2012, Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne, United States Army was on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) while on foot patrol in Afghanistan. Travis lost both of his legs above the knee, his right arm above the elbow, and his left arm below the elbow, making him the fourth quadruple amputee to survive from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thanks to the heroic actions of the men in his unit, Travis' amazing strength and courage, and the support of friends, family, and the community, he survived the blast and arrived at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda, MD on April 17, 2012.
America's Fund caseworkers met with the Mills family shortly after they arrived at Walter Reed. America's Fund assisted with travel, lodging, lost wages, and renting a wheelchair-accessible van, eliminating financial stressors on the family and allowing Travis to focus on recovery with his family by his side for support.
"America's Fund has helped my family tremendously, from financial support to moral support. They have been so giving; helping us rent an accessible van, even providing my husband with a camelback so he can drink independently! They have made it possible for both Travis' and my parents to take an allotted amount of time off of work to spend time and help us with recovery and rehabilitation. Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts!" – Kelsey Mills, Travis' Wife.
Currently on the road to recovery, Travis, his lovely wife Kelsey, and their young daughter, Chloe, live in an apartment on the grounds of Walter Reed, which is convenient for his daily routine of physical and occupational therapy at the hospital.
Travis has been fitted for his prosthetics and spends most of his day perfecting the use of them. On June 7th, 2012, Travis took his first steps and walked around the entire track at the Military Advanced Training Center. With the use of his new prosthetic arm, which allows his hand to open, close, or rotate, he is able to feed himself and help with his daddy duties such as feeding baby Chloe.
Travis has big plans for his future. He is pursuing a career as a motivational speaker, and is considering staying in the military as an instructor.
Travis is an inspiration to all with his positive can-do attitude and his determination. Travis states, "My life is not over. It just got a little more unique."
Sergeant Monte Bernardo, U.S. Army:
Proud to talk about daughter Felicity’s accomplishments
Monte Bernardo is a Sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army, and was serving his second tour of duty in the Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, when he was critically injured by an IED on July 4, 2012. Monte lost both of his legs and one of his arms in the explosion. Monte was transported to the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland where he began his long journey toward recovery.
America's Fund provided Monte with a family support grant so that his family could be by his side during his recovery. America's Fund also gave Monte an Ipad so that he could keep in touch with friends. Monte has an amazing, strong family support system, and America’s Fund was proud to be able to foster that close connection by ensuring that his family could be present at the hospital during his hour of need.
Monte is a proud father of an eleven year-old daughter named Felicity. She is the light of his life, and he is always so excited to talk about her accomplishments. He wants to relocate to the Houston area and is going to pursue a degree in Aerospace Engineering.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 TaMarsh Thompson, U.S. Army:
Bedside family provides critical support and encouragement
Chief Warrant Officer (CWO3) TaMarsh Thompson is an Apache helicopter pilot in the United States Army and has been serving his country for eighteen years. TaMarsh was on his fourth deployment to Afghanistan serving in the line of duty when he was involved in a helicopter crash on March 22, 2012 and sustained a severe traumatic brain injury.
TaMarsh was landing the aircraft after completing a mission when it began to malfunction. The helicopter began falling apart, causing the rear rotor blade to come through the aircraft and strike TaMarsh in the head. He was first medevac’d to Germany, and later to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. After a few months of recovery he was transferred to the Tampa Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center in Florida.
TaMarsh was surrounded by his loving family from the time he arrived at the hospital in Maryland. Within a few days of their arrival, America’s Fund representatives met with the Thompson family and offered financial assistance. America’s Fund was proud to assist the Thompson family with the costs of travel so that they could be relieved of financial burdens and focus on their loved one’s recovery.
TaMarsh’s mother, Janice, was able to remain by her son’s bedside and devote herself entirely to his care and recovery. Kareen, his sister and active-duty Army soldier, made frequent trips to offer her brother loving support.
TaMarsh has three children, all of whom have been able to visit their father during his recovery process. Having his family by his side has provided precious support and encouragement that TaMarsh needed on his road to recovery, and America’s Fund is glad to have been able to assist TaMarsh and his family throughout this journey.