Marine Staff Sergeant Octavio Sanchez: The Darkest Hours

Marine Staff Sergeant Octavio Sanchez experienced some of the darkest hours of his life after being critically injured while serving our country in Iraq.

While conducting combat operations in 2005, Octavio’s unit passed over an improvised explosive device (IED) while traveling in a Humvee. Immediately, the IED exploded, causing severe damage to the vehicle and massive injuries to the members of Octavio’s team.


“The blast left third degree burns to 69% of my face and body,” he said. “I lost the use of my left hand and eventually, this led to my right hand being amputated.”

Fighting for his life, Octavio returned to the U.S. for years of further treatment and rehabilitation at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, over 1,300 miles from his family’s home in California. As his wife, Vanette, and their five young children prepared to relocate to be near Octavio and provide crucial support during his recovery, they faced a battle of their own kind — losing their home.

“The move caused financial hardships because we had a mortgage in California. Immediately upon hearing about our situation, Semper Fi & America’s Fund stepped in. Their help allowed us to keep our home in California and keep the focus on recovering from my injuries,” said Octavio. “The Fund has had my family’s back and mine since the beginning.”

Determined to lift the financial burden throughout the family’s two-year stay in San Antonio, The Fund provided vital, all-encompassing support, including offsetting the cost of rent payments, to ensure the Sanchez family could stay together and solely concentrate on Octavio’s healing. The Fund also provided him with an adaptive vehicle that was specially designed to meet his unique needs as an amputee, giving Octavio newfound independence and allowing his family to safely travel together — two things that proved life-changing.

“Learning to navigate with these injuries has been quite the challenge,” he said. “Nevertheless, many of those challenges have been minimized because of the continued support of Semper Fi & America’s Fund.”


Throughout it all, Octavio has continued to thrive, often sharing his story of loss, survival, and never-ending hope with everyone he meets. He credits The Fund, his family, and his faith as the things that have carried him through these incredible hardships, saying, “As a survivor, it is my duty to share the stories of the men who did not come home. I have been given the opportunity to use my injuries to encourage, exhort, and counsel many of our veterans to this day.”


Octavio currently serves as the director of a Christian nonprofit called Frontsight Military Ministry/Frontsight Military Outreach in Ontario, Ca. Alongside offering guidance that holds to Christian values and helping veterans navigate VA claims and benefits, they run a gym that is free for active duty military service members and veterans and provides a unique level of support for those who wear the uniform.


“This has been my purpose and a way of staying in the fight,” said Octavio, whose faith post-injury grew stronger than ever. “Obedience to God’s word will render a lifetime of blessings, no matter the circumstances you find yourself in, either good or bad.”


As Octavio’s mission to give back by helping veterans and military families continues to grow, The Fund will be there each step of the way to ensure each of Octavio’s needs will always be met — Today. Tomorrow. Together.


“The Fund embodies the meaning of ‘no man left behind’ and family,” said Octavio. “They were there during our darkest hours and continue to be there today. If I had to sum it up in one word, they mean ‘EVERYTHING.’ They have been a blessing to the Sanchez family!”

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