Cpl. Sean Edmunds: Giving back
Wounded Army veteran runs to raise support for OASIS Adaptive Sports and Vacations for Veterans
Liberty University Online student Cpl. Sean Edmunds has spent his life serving others. The Wales, U.K. native met his wife Donna — a New Yorker — while working with the London City Mission in 2000. Following their marriage in 2002, the couple moved to New York where Sean Edmunds enlisted in the Army.
“I felt compelled that if I was going to live in America that I should give something back,” he said. “So I joined the U.S. Army.”
Edmunds trained as a combat medic with Dog Company, 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment stationed in Fort Richardson, Alaska. The unit deployed to Iraq in October 2006, and four months later, Edmunds was wounded by an improvised explosive device (IED) at a checkpoint.
“In February 2007 my unit was conducting a traffic control point, and as I was crossing the road, a remote-controlled IED was triggered a few feet from where I was standing,” he said. “I had shrapnel wounds which fractured my jaw and caused a traumatic brain injury, and I have severe hearing loss.”
Edmunds said his recovery process was long and frustrating, and the first year “felt like a daze.”
“I saw countless doctors and therapists, but ultimately it was my faith in God and his hand in my life that brought me through,” he said. “My wife and children were also a tremendous support, pushing me to keep going and not give up.”
Two charity organizations helped Edmunds and his family through the recovery process, OASIS Adaptive Sports (Outdoor Adventures for Sacrifice in Service) and Vacations for Veterans. OASIS, located in the Finger Lakes area of New York, provides veterans with outdoor experiences including skiing, archery, sailing and horsemanship.
“When I found out about oasis I was at a pretty low point, and they asked me if I wanted to learn to ski,” Edmunds said. “I was a little unsure but my wife was really hoping it would be beneficial in the re-integration to civilian life process. The instructors and staff were very supportive, and they are trained to work with disability levels of all kinds.”
Vacations for Veterans allows vacation homeowners to donate their homes for a week to wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. The Edmunds family was able to spend a week in Folly Beach, S.C. and Gulf Shores, Ala. at no cost.
“Returning from war is difficult, whatever the circumstances, and encouragement, support and love are crucial in making it a successful transition for all veterans,” Edmunds said. “Veterans organizations like these are vital in supporting and aiding our veterans in their recovery process and returning to civilian life.”
Now, Edmunds is once again giving back. Immediately following graduation in May, he plans to run across America from Washington State to Delaware to raise support for both OASIS Adaptive Sports and Vacations for Veterans. The trip will last 80 days at an average of 42 miles per day.
“Running was a huge outlet once I returned to good physical condition,” he said. “Running has provided a great way for me to let off steam, think things through and bring them before God.”
Edmunds started a blog about his run at reasontorun2012.blogspot.com and can answer questions addressed to email@example.com.
He said there are a number of ways people can get involved. To allow 100 percent of the donations to go to both charities, he is looking for corporate or individual sponsors to cover his costs.
“An easy way to get involved is to spread the word,” Edmunds said. “I’m hoping to get many people involved and bring awareness in as many ways as I can. I have a tentative route mapped out on my blog, so if I am running close to where you are, feel free to join me one day.”
After his run next year, Edmunds plans to follow his bachelor’s degree in Religion with a master’s degree in Chaplaincy, so he can continue serving others as a chaplain with the military or Veterans Affairs.