It was the worst day of Major Jeremy Haynes’ life.
While Jeremy was serving as an aide-de-camp in Afghanistan in 2014 on his second deployment, his entire life changed instantly. One minute, he was on a routine mission, and the next, he’d been shot four times by Afghan military policemen. Jeremy was medevaced to Germany, where his severe wounds required multiple surgeries to save his life.
And when the doctors delivered the news that bullet fragments would forever remain in Jeremy’s spinal cord, resulting in paralysis from the waist down, Jeremy learned he would never be the same again. But because of the all-encompassing support from Semper Fi & America’s Fund, what Jeremy once believed was the worst day of his life turned out to be what — he now calls — the best.
“The Fund is one of the organizations I credit for helping me transcend my thoughts from darkness to light. I struggled to accept that I am not the same person, physically or mentally. I used to question why I did not die after being shot four times and invited death to take away my pain … I no longer think of being shot as the worst day of my life. The tragic event is now regarded as the best day of my life. Every day, I unwrap this gift called life in the form of a present … I accept my past, am grateful for the present, and am optimistic about my future.”
The Fund first offered support at Jeremy’s bedside at Walter Reed, which is where he met his case manager, who proved to be a shining light for Jeremy and his family.
“Karen [his case manager] and her Walter Reed team orchestrated visits and events with other wounded warriors to endure and overcome what I was going through. The positive impact continued, as events with my wife and family events helped me reinvent myself. Semper Fi & America’s Fund has been a pillar in my life. The Fund has been and continues to be a reliable source in providing life-altering and essential support to wounded warriors and retired veterans.”
To ensure Jeremy had every resource available to navigate life with his spinal cord injury, The Fund has offset the cost of travel to doctors’ appointments; provided vehicle and home grants to further Jeremy’s independence, comfort, and safety; and offered lasting care throughout Jeremy’s transition from military to civilian life, including caregiver support for his wife, Chelsea.
When Jeremy became interested in handcycling, The Fund provided him with a bike that is uniquely designed to fit his needs as a paraplegic as well as a FES stationary bike, which utilizes unique stimulation therapy to build muscle, prevent atrophy, and reduce muscle spasms. These innovative devices have allowed Jeremy to maintain both his physical and mental health alongside his participation in life-changing support groups, which connect him with fellow spinal cord-injured veterans.
“The video calls are an opportunity to fellowship, build relationships, and discuss lessons learned in an array of areas – medical, travel, relationships, kids, etc. … The Fund has also provided core structural support to help rebuild and strengthen family connections, empowered me to gain independence, and accept my new normal.”
With his endless courage and resilient hope, Jeremy even defied all the odds by standing and taking steps on his own when he was once told this was impossible, an incredible accomplishment for which he credits the unmovable, lasting support of family, friends, and The Fund.
“Semper Fi & America’s Fund is more than a non-profit. The Fund is a member of my family who never gave up on me … Even when I wanted to give up on myself, The Fund was there to help me put my life back together. Moments where I slip, The Fund has always been there to help me back up.”
With The Fund by his side, Jeremy has been able to complete a doctoral degree alongside spending time with his beloved wife and four children. Now, his positivity and grit are a beacon of hope to others, encouraging those on their own journeys of recovery to embrace the gift of life joyfully.