Key Moments and Milestones
A Timeline of Our History
Semper Fi & America’s Fund (The Fund) was started in 2003 by military spouses who immediately volunteered to provide bedside support to those wounded and injured while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Operated today by those same military spouses, The Fund now includes a nationwide staff of patriotic veterans, community members, and volunteers, and The Fund’s model of lifelong relationships between service members, military families, and our team is completely unique among veteran nonprofits.
Medevacs Land at Camp Pendleton
Our story began in the spring of 2003. Just returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom, the first wave of wounded Marines and Sailors landed at Camp Pendleton, California. A dedicated group of Marine spouses jumped in to greet the wounded service members and their families, providing them with needed items for comfort and recovery. They provided a specialized van for a quadriplegic, a young Marine LCpl, through the generosity of donors like retired Marine Colonel Jack Kelly. This was just the beginning of a long commitment and promise to care for our wounded, ill, and injured and their families.
Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund is Born
On May 17, 2004, Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund is born. The following day, Karen Guenther and Dawn Olsen pick up 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 Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund!
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.”–President George W. Bush
Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund Featured in Cookie Magazine
Cookie Magazine announced three Injured Marine 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 and children’s causes around the globe.
Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund Launches Support for Caregivers
Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund recognizes the toll that caregivers face in the day-to-day reality of caring for wounded, ill and injured service members. Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund steps in to help by providing support, education and resources for caregivers.
Team Semper Fi is Created
Team Semper Fi is created and the first sports teams are made up of wounded Marines and Sailors. Recovery Through Sport launches with eight members and has grown to include more than 2,800 service members representing all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Team Semper Fi was named after Peter Murphy, Semper Fi Fund Board Member and Counsel to the Commandant from 1984 to 2004.
Learn more about the history of Team Semper Fi here.
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.
Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund Introduces Cover Me
Cover Me is the first documentary showing Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) military leadership talking about PTSD. Thousands of copies were distributed stateside and overseas to combat units, also used as a teaching resource at BUMED, Navy Chaplain School, and Combat Operational Stress Control training for active duty and families. Many copies were also ordered for local first responders across the country.
Highest Rating Granted by Charity Watchdogs
Semper Fi Fund was rated an A+ by CharityWatch and 4-Stars by Charity Navigator, the highest rating awarded by each of these watchdogs. We have maintained these top grades ever since.
Read more about how we prioritize our financial accountability and stewardship.
Team Semper Fi Fund Members Compete in 1st Warrior Games
The Warrior Games is a multi-sport event for wounded, ill, or injured service personnel and veterans. It was hosted at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center. This was magical for our service members and their families as our athletes were competing on the same ground as our Olympic & Paralympic athletes.
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.
Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program Begins
Dedicated in memory of Colonel Jinx McCain, USMC, a four-time Purple Heart recipient who served in every conflict from Iwo Jima to Vietnam. This acclaimed riding program provides confidence-building horsemanship clinics to wounded, ill, and injured service members, veterans, and their families across the nation.
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 are provided.
Help for All Branches Is Provided
America’s Fund program started to open up Semper Fi Fund assistance to all service branches — Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Mr. Kyle Strandquist gives the first large donation to seed America’s Fund efforts.
Karen Guenther Appears on Oprah’s Favorite Things
Semper Fi Fund Founder Karen Guenther 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.
Veteran 2 Veteran Program (V2V) Is Introduced
Working closely with our wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans, the V2V program is created to provide peer to peer support, resources, and networking in their local community, to make a smoother transition back to civilian life.
Unit Reunions Commence
When a military unit faces combat, the members of that unit rely on each other to overcome the challenges of war. 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.
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.
The Apprenticeship Program is Launched
The Apprenticeship 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.
‘You Are Not Alone’ Initiative Is Launched at The Fund’s 2/7 Unit Reunion
The ‘You Are Not Alone’ initiative is designed to connect community members with veterans who are struggling with life-threatening conditions, such as severe post-traumatic stress, anxiety, isolation and depression. The initiative provides ‘You Are Not Alone’ resource cards that anyone can order free of charge. These cards provide important outreach help where veterans can receive immediate support and care, including contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a QR code to the REACH to Prevent Suicide website and contact information for Semper Fi & America’s Fund.
Semper Fi Fund Provides $150 Million in Assistance
Semper Fi Fund celebrates another major milestone by announcing $150 million in assistance to service members, veterans, and military families of all branches in the Armed Forces.
Platinum Rating by GuideStar
Semper Fi Fund celebrates GuideStar’s Platinum Rating, demonstrating our commitment to financial transparency.
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.
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 at a Pentagon ceremony. 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.
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.
Launched the LCpl Bob Parsons Welcome Home Fund
The program will expand our mission to care for veterans from all U.S. military service branches who are catastrophically injured from combat operations in Vietnam.
Bob & Renee Parsons First Donation Match Challenge
GoDaddy hosted a significant 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, and the second $1 million check represented the matching funds from GoDaddy and The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation, who began their United States Marine Corps 237th birthday tribute with matching gift campaigns in November. This was the first annual match that today has raised more than $142 million for our combat wounded, critically ill and injured service members, veterans, and military families.
Launched the Visiting Nurses Program
The Semper Fi Fund & America’s Fund Visiting Nurses Program provides support to service members and veterans of all five service branches to help navigate complex medical and mental health care for our catastrophically wounded, ill, or injured.
The Visiting Nurses 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 Nurses Program is to create a framework of support to improve overall service member and veteran and family health and wellness.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of our service members and families 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.