Wounded Warrior Family Finds Hope Through Sports

The more time Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Brandon Dodson spends playing adaptive sports, the better he deals with his injuries – and the easier his wife and primary caretaker, Jasmine Dodson, breathes.

Every now and then he’ll be like ‘You know, this sucks.’ But with him doing the sports, it really clears his head and it makes him strong, like ‘Hey I got injured, but I’m doing so much now,’” she said. “My stress level is way down because here I was taking care of him, but now that he’s strong it’s less that’s on my plate.”

Dodson lost both his legs in Afghanistan in August, 2014 when he stepped on a pressure plate connected to five pounds of homemade explosives – a wicked IED that torn his body and sent him into a whirlwind of surgeries at Walter Reed Army Medical Center where he still lives with Jasmine and their toddler son.

But this month he will compete in track and field, swimming and cycling at the Defense Department’s Warrior Games as an active duty member on the Marine Corps’ team. Jasmine and her son will attend as well and watch him compete thanks to a grant provided by the Semper Fi Fund to members of their organization, such as the Dodsons.

Brandon has attended multiple sports camps with the Semper Fi Fund, which believes that sports is the best non-medication way to help wounded service members heal from their injuries and any feelings of isolation. And while Brandon doesn’t deal with PTSD, Jasmine says, getting out and staying active has been one of the biggest keys to his physical and mental recovery.

“It was really cool to see that he could go on his own. I was able to kind of lengthen the leash,” Jasmine said. “I think, honestly, that’s the best way to adapt.”

Brandon has hand-cycled the Marine Corps Marathon with the Team Semper Fi as well as attending several of their surf camps and a water skiing camp.

The Semper Fi Fund has been key in helping Jasmine deal with Brandon's injuries as well as the huge emotional toll of going from Marine Corps wife to Marine Corps wounded warrior caregiver in the blink of an eye. In addition to helping cover costs, including lost salary, for their family right after the incident so that they could be at his bedside, Semper Fi Fund makes sure Jasmine has time for self-care as they wait for medical retirement through nights out and a little spa pampering.

“That’s the highlight of my month – getting away from every body and getting some good food and just relaxing,” she said. “That’s just for caregivers, they consider us. Keeping us sane and relaxed is a big part of the puzzle.”

About 200 athletes will compete in the Warrior Games, hosted this year at West Point, New York. The games run from June 14 to 22 and include a total of eight sports.

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