Gunnery Sergeant Aubrey L. McDade Jr. has lived a life marked by deep sacrifice and finding strength throughout life’s toughest moments — even when all hope seemed lost.
Aubrey joined the Marines with a desire to leave behind a powerful legacy by offering his selfless service to our country. He served on deployments to Japan, the Mediterranean, and Iraq, where he risked his life to save three fellow Marines who were badly injured and pinned in an alley during a firefight. For his great courage, he was awarded the Navy Cross for valor in combat, one of our Nation’s highest honors.
This incredible rescue, however, resulted in both seen and unseen injuries for Aubrey as he suffered multiple traumatic brain injuries, and upon returning home, he began losing his fight with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“I struggled severely after we returned home,” said Aubrey. “I fought as hard as I could to overcome PTSD on my own, and I was losing the fight terribly! My life was breaking apart at the seams and I wanted to end it. With the little fight that I had left, I was able to get some help and fight to stay alive.”
That help was Semper Fi & America’s Fund, which immediately offered financial assistance and emotional support. Rebecca, his case manager, proved to be an invaluable advocate and partner by providing Aubrey with everything he needed to pursue the best possible quality of life. For many of our veterans, the lifelong impact of PTSD includes debilitating symptoms that greatly impact daily life. But thanks to the generosity of our donors, The Fund provided Aubrey with life-changing adaptive equipment to relieve his constant pain, including a Theragun for deep tissue massages and a Celluma device, which utilizes light therapy to relieve muscle/joint pain. As Aubrey also suffers from memory loss and migraines, The Fund provided him with an iPad to ensure he kept track of all medical appointments and Irlen Glasses — specialized lenses specifically designed to help with visual processing. This non-invasive, innovative technology lessens the harsh effects of light sensitivity, including headaches, problems with depth perception, irritability, and fatigue, and has had a positive effect on Aubrey, who is also a father of ten.
“My family and I love Rebecca because she makes us feel special,” said Aubrey. “She has an unwavering commitment to provide exceptional care.”
Always looking for ways to give back, Aubrey currently teaches leadership at Title 1 schools with the intent of building student-led cultures and creating positive environments. He also serves as the Vice President for the Tomlinson Center for Leadership through Team America, where Marine Drill Instructors deliver mentoring and leadership training for coaches, student-athletes, and team captains. His hopes for the future include staying fit and active, and continuing to be a loving father, grandfather, and husband to his wonderful wife, LaNisha.
A light to his amazing family, grateful community, and fellow service members, Aubrey is a shining example of living each day to the fullest.
“You are worth it!” he said. “Every day is a fight for your life so fight hard. It doesn’t get easier but your belief in yourself grows stronger.”