Sergeant Jason Smith’s life forever changed while on deployment to Afghanistan in 2012. Jason joined the military as a tribute to his father and mother — both Soldiers — and their incredible legacy of service. His love for our country led to five faithful years of service and a deployment to Afghanistan. While conducting a battle damage assessment, he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED), and the extreme injuries resulted in the loss of his legs. He underwent multiple surgeries and months of rehabilitation before medically retiring from the Army.
“When it’s dark, gravitate towards the light,” said Jason. “No matter how small the flame, it will grow if you feed it.”
Jason never lost sight of the incredible things that he could accomplish post-injury, and with Semper Fi & America’s Fund by his side, he proved unstoppable. In 2014, The Fund provided Jason with a mobility chair and offset the cost of an adaptive vehicle to fit Jason’s unique needs as a double amputee. Since then, The Fund has supplied grants for furniture and home repairs, funding for medical travel, educational support, and Jason’s wonderful wife, Lauren, has also attended caregiver retreats.
“If not for all the help through the years from Karen [his case manager] and The Fund, we wouldn’t have made it as far as we have today. I don’t think there’s a better organization out there. It isn’t just financial help they offer. They also give us outlets to destress and grow closer together as a family … [Without The Fund] it would be an extreme challenge to succeed,” said Jason.
With a passion for fitness, Jason is now an accomplished bodybuilder and a certified personal trainer, who is in the process of starting his own mobile gym business as part of The Fund’s Apprenticeship Program. Battleborn, as he plans to call his company, will provide all the necessary equipment for hosting various athletic events and training clients in the convenience of their own homes.
“We love helping people be their best version of themselves,” said Jason and Lauren, who is also a personal trainer.
Jason’s goals for the future include making the Paralympic rowing team and competing once again in the Warrior Games, an adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill, and injured service members. He also hopes to qualify for the Invictus Games — an international sports competition for wounded servicemen and women. With no plans to slow down, Jason credits The Fund as a source of inspiration for his endless positivity, resilience, and heart for helping others.
“If I had to sum it up in one word what Semper Fi & America’s Fund means to me, it would be HOPE. They make sure we aren’t forgotten and that our needs are met,” he said. “When we’re at our darkest, The Fund seems to swoop in and pull us out. I am honored and thankful that Semper Fi & America’s Fund has the ability to help myself and other veterans across America.”
For everyone at The Fund, we cannot wait to see what Jason accomplishes next, always encouraging others by both finding and being a light in the darkness.