Staff Sergeant Ian Ralston never doubted that his life’s mission would be to serve our country in the Army.
“It’s the only thing I ever wanted to do,” said Ian. “September 11th solidified my purpose for joining.”
Ian became a combat medic, responsible for providing critical medical treatment to the wounded on the battlefield, and he served overseas during Operation Iraqi Freedom, faithfully protecting and keeping his fellow service members alive.
But on his second deployment in 2010, Ian found himself in a fight for his own life.
While on patrol, Ian’s unit passed under a bridge, and an improvised explosive device detonated from overhead. Shrapnel from the blast hit Ian’s vertebrae, instantly paralyzing him from the neck down. He was quickly medevaced to Landstuhl Army Medical Hospital, where the medical staff stabilized him for transport home — the beginning of his awe-inspiring journey to recovery.
Back in the States, Ian underwent multiple surgeries and seven months of extensive rehabilitation before returning to his family’s home for years of further treatment and steady healing. With support from his loving family, Ian’s vast determination and endless courage shone in the darkest of times as he transitioned into civilian life and encountered Semper Fi & America’s Fund, which welcomed him and his wonderful wife, Nicole, into The Fund family with open arms.
“Semper Fi & America’s Fund is an incredible organization that does everything that they can to help out veterans and their families by providing financial services, adaptive equipment, family services, and well-being,” he said. “They are incredibly passionate about what they do, and it is greatly appreciated to be associated with people like them.”
To ensure Ian’s unique needs as a quadriplegic were always met, The Fund purchased essential equipment for Ian to safely travel, including a grant for an adaptive van designed to fit his wheelchair, a portable wheelchair ramp to help Ian navigate steps, and a portable generator to ensure Ian never lost the use of his ventilator or wheelchair while away from home. The Fund also installed a heating and cooling system in Ian’s garage, allowing him to safely pursue his passions in his workshop year-round, and repaired the canopy of Ian’s driveway to protect him from harsh elements while getting in and out of his vehicle.
“We know that we can count on The Fund family to bend over backwards to meet our needs and requests,” said Ian. “The outpouring of support and passion that we have encountered has been incredible.”
A remarkable testament to courage, strength, and positivity, Ian cites Nicole as the biggest motivator throughout his recovery, and now as the father of young twins, Ian has a newfound commitment to never let anything stop him accomplishing whatever he sets his mind to do.
“When my twins were younger, they loved to ride around on my wheelchair and pretend that they could “push me” around the house,” he said. “I was in a very dark place for a long time, but there were a few events that occurred that changed my outlook, and I try to stay as positive as I can now.”
With The Fund providing a unique network of care that his family can always depend on — a promise that continues from injury through recovery and for a lifetime —, Ian has overcome incredible hardships and extraordinary challenges, surpassing all expectations with determination, hope, and The Fund family always by his side.