- Posted November 8, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Veterans in focus
My Marine, A True American Hero
- Jamescia, CNN iReport producer
Brandon Blackstone joined the US Marine Corps after 9/11. He was in 1st Battalion, 7th Marines attached to the 2nd Force Recon as an Entryman and Scout Sniper. He served in Husaybah, Iraq in OIF as well as OEF. After his Humvee rolled over an anti-tank mine and exploded in October 2004, he was severely injured and medically evacuated from Husaybah, Iraq to Al Asad. Brandon was honorably discharged from the USMC and is now considered disabled due to the extent of his injuries and has received multiple Purple Hearts. Shortly after he got back, he spiraled into a deep depression due to PTSD and TBI. He suffered Grand Mal seizures as well and many knee and ankle surgeries. He ended up addicted to drugs, prescription pills, and alcohol to cope with losing his fallen brothers and to deal with PTSD and TBI. After he found himself homeless and nowhere to go, he turned to his Aunt who helped him get into rehab. After almost a year in rehab and finally back on his feet, Brandon learned a lot about himself and what he wanted to do with his future...
Brandon co-founded a non-profit called The Fight Continues with three other Marine vets that he does motivational speaking for as well as an annual “Reading of the Fallen” (http://the-fight-continues.com ) on Veteran’s Day. He currently volunteers for two different Non-Profit Organizations: Heroes On The Water (http://heroesonthewater.com ), and the Midwest Marines Foundation (http://midwestmarinesfoundation.org/ ) as a motivational speaker as well as a Peer Mentor. He is dedicating his life to helping war veterans transition back to civilian life while dealing with invisible wounds such as PTSD, TBI, Survivor's Guilt, etc. Also, Brandon is enrolled in college full-time as a Psychology major to help him in these endeavors.
I fell in love with my hero Brandon 11 years ago. We rekindled an old flame over a year ago and are now engaged to be married. I am his fiancée, as well as his caregiver, and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Ever since I heard the words “PTSD and TBI” after all these years and how it effects him daily, his family, and his life in general, I started doing research on it so I could get informed on these invisible wounds. I feel that families are not informed enough about the effects of war on our Veterans regarding PTSD, Secondary PTSD, TBI, survivor's guilt, and Veteran suicide. Brandon has inspired me to volunteer with a few non-profits in helping spread the word of these invisible wounds. The Fight Continues (http://the-fight-continues.com ), Family of a Vet (http://familyofavet.com) , and PTSD & TBI Ribbon Awareness (http://awarenessribbonsptsd.com ). I am proud to call Brandon Blackstone my hero, and my daughter loves calling him her hero as well. He has changed my life and I know he will change many others! His family and I are so proud of how far he has come. Semper Fidelis and thank you to everyone who has served! You are the 1% of America who are the brave!