"I've said before that America's debt to those who would fight for her defense doesn't end the day the uniform comes off. For the security of our nation, it must not end. Every time a man or woman enlists in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard, he or she is ready to lay down his or her life for our nation. We must be ready to show that America appreciates what that means." --President Ronald W. Reagan, 25OCT1988
HM3 James Raffetto was assigned to the Marines of 1st Reconnaissance and, while in Afghanistan in August 2010, he was severely injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) blast.
When he decided to join the U.S. Navy, HM3 James Raffetto was living at home and working in construction, and he craved a more structured lifestyle. His brother had been a Marine and Raffetto was tempted to join the infantry, but his father suggested enlisting in the Navy and learning a useful trade. Becoming a Hospital Corpsman, Raffetto thought, seemed like the right course of action.
Raffetto spent the bulk of his Navy career in training; he was wounded during his very first deployment. He was assigned to the Marines of 1st Reconnaissance and, while in Afghanistan in August 2010, he was severely injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) blast. The accident resulted in the amputation of both his legs above the knee, an amputation of his left arm at the elbow, and the amputation of three fingers on his remaining hand.
Though his recovery process was very difficult at first, Raffetto, who now is standing tall on prosthetic legs, feels very hopeful about the future.
“Several factors help me stay positive: first and foremost, my wife – the best part about all of this is that she is with me and I can spend time with her,” Raffetto said. “Organizations like Navy Safe Harbor have made a big difference. And my physical therapists are extremely skilled. Had I been injured a few years ago, walking may have been impossible. But, considering the future of prosthetics, it is hard to not be optimistic.”
Navy Safe Harbor has helped the Raffetto family address a number of non-medical issues, from helping the family get to Raffetto’s bedside immediately after his injury to fixing pay and personnel problems.
“Navy Safe Harbor has been very helpful,” said Raffetto. “They strike the perfect balance of being there when you need them, but not hanging around when you don’t. [My Non-medical Care Manager] CDR Hamilton is phenomenal. She gets results, she checks in often, but she’s not overbearing in any way.”
“From day one James has maintained a positive attitude that sort of says: ‘This is where I fell; I’m going to stand where I am and move forward from here,’” said Hamilton. “He faced many trials in his recovery and rehabilitation but has never given up. He sets goals and strives to achieve them. He’s a champion.”
When they can, Raffetto and his wife Emily like to visit other wounded warriors; they generously offer their company, share their experiences, and offer an ear to listen if needed.
“The most important thing I can do is show the wounded warriors what they can accomplish during their recovery – by seeing me, they learn that so much is still possible,” said Raffetto. “I try to give them a realistic look – but a hopeful look – at what’s to come.”
Looking ahead, Raffetto says school definitely is in his future: “So many opportunities are available to me through Walter Reed and Bethesda. I want to get as physically and educationally able as I can and just go from there,” he said.
Inspired by the military community, Navy Safe Harbor Foundation was created to efficiently identify and meet the needs of recovering Sailors, Coast Guardsmen, Merchant Marines and their families. NSHF will fill the gaps of current nonmedical provisions through collaboration with federal and community resources. NSHF wants to ensure that every service member is given an opportunity for full recovery by providing financial assistance, respite care, special equipment, transportation, recreational opportunities, and other services. The Navy Safe Harbor Foundation is dedicated to supporting the recovery of seriously wounded, ill, and injured Sailors, Coast Guardsmen, and their families by assisting them with resources not currently provided by government or community resources.
The Navy Safe Harbor Foundation (NSHF) is an IRS recognized 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit organization.
NSHF © 2013 – The NSHF is not affiliated with the United States Navy, Coast Guard or Department of Defense.
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