Double amputee veteran on why it is important to support service members during the holidays

Double amputee veteran on why it is important to support service members during the holidays

FoxNews.Com | Bradford Betz | November 24, 2020 | Link to Full Article

Although wars may wind down, the road to recovery for former U.S. Marine Josh Bleill is a lifelong process.

Bleill enlisted after 9/11. While serving in Iraq in 2006, a roadside bomb hit his vehicle, which killed two Marines’ lives and irreparably injured both of his legs.

While Bleill was recovering from his injuries, Semper Fi & America’s Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping wounded veterans, reached out to him to provide support, at a time when he was “fighting for his life to even survive my injuries.”

Bleill told Fox News that the emotional support he received was crucial to his recovery process and gave him the strength he needed.

“What they truly do is just surround our service members with family and friends, but also a sense of knowing that they’re not going to be left behind, that this is a lifelong fight, and they’re going to be there striving with us,” he said, noting that 14 years after receiving his injuries, the organization still checks up on him.

The fund supplied plane tickets so that his wife, Nikki Bleill, could be with him during his recovery and rehabilitation process. It also provided equipment and tools to help him start walking again.

The fund was started in 2003 by a military spouse who saw a need to provide service members with the emotional support and resources they needed after returning from Iraq. Since its founding, the fund has helped more than 25,000 service members and their families, as well as given over $228 million in assistance.

Susan Rocco, a vice president at the fund, told Fox News that it is critical more service members are aware of the organization, especially during the holiday season when suicide is at an all-time high.

“As we think of our service members who have given so much for our country, we want our service members to know, most of all, they are not alone. That we are here for him,” she said.  “And as we enter the holiday season, we know that it’s hard for many of our services members. With COVID going on, it’s making many of them feel even more isolated and alone. There’s a lot of help that we can be doing right now. So, we’re focusing on that, we’re focusing on our service members who have extra needs over the holidays, and we will continue to be with them as long as they need us.”

Today, Bleill is a motivational speaker with a wife and two kids.

On Tuesday, Semper Fi & America’s Fund launched a campaign titled “You Are Not Alone,” an initiative to help the organization “connect with those who are suffering and to let them know there is hope.”

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