To most, Thanksgiving connotes a joyous time of family, food, and celebration. But for Marine Sergeant Gabriel Martinez, the holiday marks a traumatic event that led to the loss of both his legs due to an injury he sustained while serving the U.S. abroad.
Martinez was on his second deployment when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) in the Helmand Province in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, 2010, causing the amputations of both of his legs.
After an extensive recovery process, Martinez, now medically retired, has teamed up with Semper Fi & America’s Fund to give back to his fellow veterans this 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” on Thanksgiving Day.
“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 non-profit 501 organization provides a variety of programs to assist wounded veterans in all branches of the United States Armed Forces. The ‘Double Down for Veterans’ initiative, a dollar-for-dollar match system from the The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation, is currently active until the end of the year, Martinez said.
“It is a big deal to help American veterans such as myself,” he told host Arthel Neville. “Like I said, in mind, body, spirit. It’s more than just a fund, they really are family.”