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US MARINE L. J. Smoak
In spring of 2006, Charleston, SC native L.J. Smoak was about to graduate from West Ashley High school. At that time the U.S. was heavily engaged in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The public was growing weary of the war in Iraq as media told the story of growing sectarian violence and a bloody insurgency stalling all stabilization efforts. In 2006 the Marines in Western Iraq’s Al Anbar province were taking some of the heaviest casualties since the beginning of the Global War on Terrorism. It was in the face of this that L.J. Smoak made a decision that the overwhelming majority of his peers would not. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps through the delayed entry program and left for boot camp the summer after graduation.
From 2007-2010 L.J. served with Combat Logistics Battalion 8 stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC. In 2008 he deployed with them to Al Anbar Province Iraq. He participated in operations that significantly contributed to the stabilization of Western Iraq.
In 2009 after returning from Iraq, he deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Until that time, the Marine Corps had been focused primarily on Iraq. But in 2008 and 2009 the Marines were sent to clear, hold and rebuild the Taliban stronghold of Helmand Province in Southern Afghanistan. L.J., along with his fellow Marines conducted operations against the Taliban in a highly kinetic environment. He earned a Combat Action Ribbon there. Despite the austere and dangerous conditions L.J. returned home safely having contributed to the success of key operations against the Taliban.
In August of 2010, then, Corporal Smoak was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps. He immediately obtained employment with a defense contractor where he continued to contribute to the country's national defense. While working with this organization he spent a year back in Afghanistan and then five months in Romania.
In early July of 2015 he returned from Romania. He continued working with the government contractor. On Saturday 29 August, 2015 L.J. was enjoying his time back in the U.S. with friends on a boat in the Stono River in Charleston. His friends were treading water and swimming near the bow of the boat. L.J. dove off of the stern. He was not aware of the sandbar behind the boat. The impact broke his neck. Medical professionals reported that he should not have survived the accident. The injury paralyzed him from the neck down.
L.J. Spent seven weeks at the Medical University of South Carolina, and then four months at the Veterans Affairs Spinal Cord Unit in Augusta, GA undergoing treatment. He returned home to West Ashley in early February. He lives with his mother Michelle in a two story townhome. The ground floor living room is dedicated to his care. In order to serve as his primary caregiver, Michelle has significantly cut back her own employment hours. L.J. has a scooter which he can control utilizing his mouth. Other than that he is completely dependent on his caregivers.
Due to a clerical error, the health insurance through his work was turned off and he was not able to use it for the accident despite still being employed at the time of the accident. This is why he desperately needs your help.
Despite his injuries, L.J., his mother Michelle, and father Larry remain positive. They are all focused on his continued care and rehabilitation. He has gained some slight movement in his upper shoulders and they take that as a sign that he will continue to improve with hard work.
L.J. desires to return to school and pursue a vocation as he will not be defined by his injury but is committed to overcoming it. L.J.’s positive attitude and work ethic in the face of adversity greatly inspire those around him. His family will greatly appreciate and utilize all support provided.
THANK YOU FOR BEING A SUPPORTER. BUY A T-SHIRT OR DONATE, SO WE CAN BUILD THIS YOUNG MAN A NEW HOME AND GET THE BEST CARE MONEY WILL BUY! A HOME THAT SUPPORTS HIS NEEDS AND TO GET HIM THE TOP QUALITY CARE TO HOPEFULLY SEE THIS U.S. MARINE L J SMOAK WALK AGAIN SOME DAY.
HOW WILL YOU HELP HIM WRITE THE REST OF HIS LIFE STORY? HELP US MAKE THE REST OF THIS BLANK PAGE A GREAT STORY.........
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