Thanksgiving brings together family and friends in a time of year we all share why we’re grateful for each other. For one Marine veteran, this day reflects a more daunting experience. Marine Sergeant Gabriel Martinez was serving overseas when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) on Thanksgiving day in 2010.
The service member’s injuries caused him to lose both legs and undergo major surgery. The long recovery gave Martinez time to analyze the experience. It was his second deployment to Afghanistan. The Marine was in the Helmand Province when he sustained his injuries. But while some could easily take this experience and let it deter them from enjoying life, Martinez looked at it as his opportunity to educate and give back.
Now, medically retired, Martinez has teamed up with Semper Fi & America’s Fund to give back to veterans during the holiday season.
“Semper Fi Fund and America’s Fund has been part of my family now since the injury and I’m just one of the millions of veterans that they’ve been helping in mind, body, and spirit,” Martinez told “Fox News Live”.
He went on to say:
“Since I was wounded, they have provided assistance with just about any aspect they have. So many generous Americans are willing to provide monetary value and support, so this time of year is specifically not only is it special for me, but for the fund,” he said.
The organization’s mission is to provide services to wounded members of the United States Armed Services. This is something close to Martinez’s heart. Further, the organization stays active throughout the year.
“It is a big deal to help American veterans such as myself,” he says, via Fox News. “Like I said, in mind, body, spirit. It’s more than just a fund, they really are family.”
It’s especially important to Martinez to remember veterans this time of year and give thanks to those service members who sacrifice so much for our country. The Marine dedicates this season to giving thanks to each of those members by staying actively involved with the fund.
Marine Purple Heart Recipient Gives Back
Just like Martinez, another Marine veteran is using his experience to make sure veterans aren’t forgotten when they return home.
U.S. Marine Dan Lopez was a part of the Marine Corps since 2003 when he was just 19 years old. After several tours overseas, the veteran says he felt directionless and lost when he came back home.
Dealing with severe PTSD, the Marine says he wanted to find a way to give back to veterans while helping them cope with things only other service members experience.
“All of those thoughts start going through your head…suicide, you can’t drink yourself away, you can’t do enough drugs to make you feel better and that is all that I was doing,” he says.
Soon, Lopez found a new mission. He rebuilds old motorcycles and offers free classes to other veterans and service members. This helps him feel a sense of purpose while providing a cool service.
Additionally, he runs another organization called K9 Allies. This is a program he uses to help families train their dogs and provide necessary tools to teach them commands.