In 2015 when Dr. Hans-Peter Wild made a historic $16.5 million gift to the Scholarship Foundation, the gift was a game-changer in the lives of thousands of Marine families receiving our Wild Scholarship. If that wasn’t enough, Dr. Wild’s gift to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation provided funding for an ongoing partnership with the Gary Sinise Foundation to build two mortgage-free homes customized specifically to the needs of severely wounded veterans through Project R.I.S.E., the first of which will be complete on Thursday, 19 January 2017.
To celebrate, we’re sharing the story of Dr. Wild’s first customized home recipients, a Marine Corps family that shines a light on the unconquerable spirit of our service members and their families, retired U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Garrett Jones. In addition to his new adapted Smart Home, the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation is proud to support the educational dreams of Corporal Jones’ three children by providing them with post-secondary education scholarships of up to $40,000 each.
This is his story:
Retired U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Garrett Jones enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2005 and left his small town of Newberg, Oregon. After 10 months of training, he deployed to Iraq in January 2007 with the 2nd Battalion 7th Marines infantry battalion. On July 23, 2007, with only two weeks until he was expected to return home, he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). As a result of the explosion, his left leg required amputation just below the hip. He lost both eardrums (which were surgically replaced a year later), suffered a Grade 3 concussion, experienced several burns and shrapnel wounds to his body, including his left arm which was fortunately saved. This was just beginning of his journey.
Approximately 30 days and 20 surgeries later, he was released from ICU and in November 2007 received his first prosthetic leg. When he learned 2/7 would be the first Marine Corps unit to deploy to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, his resilience once again did not hold him back. He sought permission from his battalion commander and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to redeploy as an intelligence analyst. In April 2008, he deployed with his unit again, this time to Afghanistan, making him the first U.S. service member to redeploy to combat following an amputation less than a year prior.
Following his retirement in 2009, he attended Western Oregon University and earned a degree in Public Health and a Minor in Spanish. In January 2013 he took a job at the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA) and was deployed again as a civilian, supporting Marines and Special Operations Forces with intelligence that would prevent them from hitting IEDs and ambushes. He’s received several military and civilian honors and accolades including employee of the year for MCIA and the Mr. John J. Guenther Marine Corps Intelligence Civilian of the Year Award. He recently completed his Master’s Degree in Strategic Intelligence. In addition to his day-job, he is committed to helping other service members’ transition to civilian life and assists severely wounded and injured, post-9/11 veterans in their efforts to become productive and self-sufficient members of their communities.
Garrett shared how he stays focused and what this type of investment means to him and his family.
Q: What life lessons would you share with fellow servicemen and women who are ill, injured and wounded?
I chose to not let my injuries control my life.
- Bad things happen to good people, but you can still make good out of unfortunate circumstances. If you decide that your unfortunate circumstance is going to define your life, it will. It is a personal decision to make the most out of the life you are given.
- With determination and perseverance, you can do whatever you want in this country. For so many men and women who are wounded, ill or injured, it’s difficult to put the pieces of life back together. While there are wonderful organizations designed to help you find those pieces and reassemble them, ultimately, it’s up to you. Our country may have its problems, but there is no lack of opportunity, it is up to you to take advantage of it. Those opportunities usually come after hard work!
Q: Where are you on your journey now?
My life is still being reassembled, but it’s because of the lessons I learned, and more, I was able to start to put my life back together one piece at a time. The smart home is another piece of my life’s puzzle that my family and I are able to put together. My family and I live in a three-story townhome, where climbing three levels of stairs makes it hard to tuck my children into bed at night due to my injuries. I am a fairly independent person and I have done a lot to regain that sense of independence, but providing for my family and working full time is hard on my body.
Prior to receiving the smart home, I was planning to construct my own house, but now we can have a main-level home to share all of life’s most precious memories together. For me, the smart home will be a sanctuary of retreat and healing and an investment in my long-term health.
Q: What does this type of support mean to you and your family?
This new home is not a donation – it is an investment in me. It’s an investment not only in my health, productivity and my family’s wellbeing, but ultimately, it’s an investment in how I feel about myself. I see myself not only as a father and a husband, but as a provider and this new home will allow me to provide for my family both physically and financially.
The scholarships paired with the new home, allows me to comfortably say that I can send my children to the school of their dreams, but most importantly, that I can tell them good night, every night, and be there to say good morning, every morning. This home will allow me to preserve my body, take care of my family and to watch my children grow every step of the way.