For two hours on the battlefield, Sgt. Josh Sweeney had been fighting for his life after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan.
Surrounded by his courageous unit as they desperately tried to save their fellow Marine’s life, Josh was critically injured, having sustained severe arm damage and extensive injuries to both legs in the explosion. The two medevac vehicles sent to rescue him had both hit IEDs enroute, delaying his medical treatment and forcing Josh to overcome impossible hardships … all of which he did.
Not only would Josh conquer every obstacle set before him, enduring dozens of surgeries, the amputation of both his legs above the knee, and months of rehabilitation, but five years later in 2014, he’d compete in the Paralympics Games … and bring home a gold medal.
“The Fund has allowed me to pursue unachievable dreams and goals successfully because of their amazing support,” said Josh.
It was during his initial hospitalization that Josh first encountered Semper Fi & America’s Fund when The Fund provided his family with bedside support. During his recovery, Josh joined a local sled hockey team and soon set his sights upon competing on the world stage. His belief in what he could achieve never wavered, giving him the strength to pursue limitless possibilities and accomplish incredible feats.
“After being injured you think, ‘What can I do now?’ or ‘What are my limitations?’ Being out there on the ice and seeing what I could do helped make me feel better about myself,” said Josh. “The fact that it was so hard to get to where I am today – the training was just endless and some days it felt like I got on the ice for no reason at all and I wasn’t getting any better – it really helped me emotionally to push through and look at the right things I was doing … the positive things.”
Continually impressed by Josh’s endless tenacity and newfound passion, The Fund provided sports equipment grants and funding for travel expenses as Josh pursued his dream. He soon became a member of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team and during the 2014 Paralympics, Josh scored the winning goal against Russia to bring home the gold. He is also a Pat Tillman ESPY Award Winner, was named Men’s Paratriathlon Development Athlete of the Year, and received the Purple Heart for his courage and heroic sacrifices.
With the eyes of our grateful nation upon him, Josh will compete as a member of the Nordic Ski Team for Team USA in the 2022 Paralympics, proudly representing our country as a world champion and a hero in every sense of the word.