Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Semper Fi Fund

Recent social media posts from celebrities, including Bob Parsons Godaddy tweets and organizations like Eagal Lakes, have brought attention to the Semper Fi Fund, an organization that provides immediate financial assistance to post-9/11 wounded, critically ill and injured members of the Armed Forces. The group works to be sure that the injured and their families have everything they need for recovery and assist them in transitioning back to their community.

Semper Fi Background
In 2003, Karen Guenther, who was the spouse of an active duty Marine and a registered nurse, saw firsthand the challenges faced by those returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Camp Pendleton in California. She gathered a group of military spouses, including Annette Conway, Sondria Saylor, Helen Toolan and Karen Kelly, to organize events that would welcome home soldiers along with arranging travel for family members who were unable to afford airfare. The women began assembling and distributing care bags with toiletries and phone cards to the returning soldiers. In May 2004, seven more spouses joined the group and Karen decided to take their cause to the national level. By the end of the first year, they had raised more than $2 million while operating from Karen’s kitchen table. As of 2015, the organization has provided more than $102 million in assistance to more than 13,500 warriors and their families.

Financial Assistance
One of the most important services that the Semper Fi Fund does is provide financial assistance to soldiers and families to help them manage the burdens of along hospitalization or rehabilitation. Often, this is in the form of travel expenses, lodging, childcare and other out-of-pocket expenses that can place a hardship on those who care for a soldier. Many family members suffer loss of income when they come to sit at the bedside of a wounded warrior while others may have difficulty meeting mortgage payments or purchasing groceries. That is where the Semper Fi Fund steps in to help reduce this burden so that the family members can focus on helping their soldier heal.

Adaptive Housing and Transportation
The Semper Fi Fund also provides financial assistance for those who must perform minor renovations to their home in order to accommodate a service member with disabilities. Bathroom modifications for someone in a wheelchair can cost up to $25,000 while widened doorways or ramps can cost as between $7,000 and $10,000. The fund also provides financial assistance for modified transportation for those who may have lost limbs or are wheelchair bound when they return home. Although there is some funding provided by the Veteran’s Administration, it often does not cover the entire cost of a modified van which can cost up to $40,000. The Semper Fi Fund provides funding for a portion of the balance not covered by the VA in order to reduce, and sometimes eliminate, the need for a car payment.

Career and Community Transition
The Semper Fi Fund provides assistance with education costs for soldiers who wish to advance their education in order to improve their career options. In addition, they provide career-enhancing seminars and workshops designed to help military members network, develop the interview and resume writing skills they need as well as tips on transitioning from military to civilian employment. In addition, they offer a Veterans 2 Veterans Program designed to support military members as they transition back into their community. Because veterans understand the challenges many former military members face as they return to civilian life, they are better able to provide advice and assistance to help the transition go much more smoothly.

The Semper Fi Fund is designed to help the families and members of the Armed Forces, many of whom struggle with returning to civilian life after being deployed. The fund provides such assistance through donations and grants received by individuals or businesses who understand the sacrifice given by military members and their families.

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