For Sergeant Charles Harris, helping others is a way of life.
“I always had a desire growing up to serve in the military and did not want to regret not joining when I got older … I believe my desire to join came from my feeling of wanting to help others,” he said.
In 2011, his unit deployed to Iraq, where Charles was critically injured after stepping on an IED while on patrol. He sustained a below the knee amputation of his right leg, an above the knee amputation of his left leg, and severe injuries to his right arm. After fighting for his life, he was medevaced to safety before undergoing years of treatment and rehabilitation at Walter Reed in Maryland and was later awarded the Combat Infantry Badge and the Purple Heart, one of our Nation’s highest honors.
“The Fund actually came to my room during my recovery process to see if anything was needed,” said Charles. “They have always made sure everything that I could possibly need was acquired, and I have seen this same hospitality with other vets while I was at Walter Reed.”
The Fund has provided Charles with all-encompassing support since his hospital bedside, throughout his recovery, and beyond, including grants for a specialized, all-terrain wheelchair and an auto grant for Charles to purchase an adaptive vehicle, which was perfectly suited to fit his unique needs as a double amputee. His newfound independence proved life-changing as it allowed Charles and his amazing wife, Autumn, to fulfill their dream of becoming foster parents, a journey that led to adoption. Now, Charles and Autumn are Dad and Mom to seven wonderful children.
“Because of Semper Fi & America’s Fund’s support, my wife and I have been able to do foster care … which would not have been possible otherwise,” said Charles. “The Fund is one of the few organizations that truly gets it right and treats their veterans like family and not just another number.”
With a special emphasis on taking care of all members of this inspiring family, The Fund sent Charles’ children boxes of educational resources and activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Autumn has been an active participant in The Fund’s caregiver retreats, where she discovered a unique support system with fellow caregivers in The Fund family.
“I believe where The Fund really shines is their commitment even after separation from the military … the constant checking in to make sure everyone is doing well, the Christmas ornaments, birthday messages, and gift cards,” said Charles. “The Fund is a supportive family that is there when you need them … always. They are one of the few nonprofits that in my opinion that constantly accomplishes its mission.”
Charles and Autumn’s future plans include raising their children, and because of The Fund’s lifelong commitment to care, Charles was inspired to start a nonprofit of his own for his fellow veterans — one that combines his passion for the outdoors, fishing, and hunting to encourage service members throughout their own recoveries and the transition to civilian life. Always on the lookout for ways to help others, Charles is a shining example of what it means to give back, and The Fund is honored to be beside him throughout his motivating journey.
“I would not be where I’m at without The Fund,” he said, “and for that, I will forever be grateful to my family at Semper Fi & America’s Fund.”