Donations to Directly Support Jon and Courtney
click on the "Read My Story" link and scroll to the end.
October 30, 2011 -- Sunday morning, the phone rings and we’re given the news that Jon (Jonny) has been horrifically wounded. Jon is, Cpl Jonathan Schumacher, US Marine, Team leader, to the Sangin Operations, 3/7 India Company in Afghanistan.
He dreamed of serving and protecting his country, even as a youth in high school. Yet, it wasn’t until 2008 at the age of 25, that he joined the military and began his service. During training in 2010, he met his lovely, Courtney and her adorable 2-year old son Ethan. They romantically eloped right before he began his first tour. Jon served seven months in grueling conditions in Afghanistan. Upon his return he had realized more how much family means and Jon and Courtney legally changed Ethan’s last name to Schumacher and begun expanding their family. They together with their unborn son make a loving family. Jonny left in September for his second tour. On that Sunday, while on patrol Jon stepped on an IED. He was pronounced a triple amputee while in Afghanistan. He lost both his legs above the knee along with most of his left hand. The skilled doctors were able to save his thumb and index finger. He suffered many superficial injuries as well. He has undergone multiple surgeries in Northern Afghanistan, until he was moved to a different hospital in Germany on November 1. He arrived in Bethesda at Walter Reed five days later. The Marine Corps flew Courtney (32 weeks pregnant) along with Jon's parents to Bethesda. Courtney stayed by Jon's side while he underwent over 15 surgeries a week. She soon delivered their second son Easton at the same hospital Jon was receiving treatment. The Semper Fi Fund was able to fly out their son Ethan along with Courtney and Jon's immediate family. Jon was rushed to the 6 floor as soon as Courtney went into labor. In his wheelchair, he was able to witness his son's birth, cut the umbilical cord, and be the first to hold him. They spent a wonderful Christmas day together. They wheeled his hospital bed into the hall and set up a table with chairs along with decorations Courtney and her mom acquired. A few days after Ethan and the family returned home. Jon, Courtney, and Easton were later transported to San Diego, CA to finish the rehabilitation process. Jon reports to the hospital five days a week. His days are filled with physical therapy, occupational therapy, prosthetic appointments, and regular doctor checkups. Courtney and Easton accompany Jon while Ethan attends a local private kindergarten. They are currently living in military housing close to the hospital with their two sons and their black lab whiskey. There have been such an outpouring of prayers and support that are so numerous that it continues to amaze his family. There is so much concern and hope for Jon, Courtney, Ethan and Easton, by people from all over the states. The prayers and well wishes being sent up in Jonny’s and the rest of his unit’s behalf has brought comfort and hope to all the family. Prayers from friends and strangers alike are offered up daily, flags are being flown high in honor of his and others’ bravery. The road ahead is long, but this family is grateful to God and to the love and support it has from so many.
Donations in support of Jon and Courtney:Besides providing your words of encouragement, many of you have asked how you can assist Jon and Courtney financially during this time. Their family has setup an account at Wells Fargo. Courtney is faced with many unexpected costs due to her stay in Maryland and being separated from their son Ethan in California, in addition to their long recovery road ahead. Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo bank. Tell the teller you wish to donate to the "Jon and Courtney Schumacher Support Fund." If the teller can't find it, indicate that they can find the account under the "Confidential" tab in Store Portal and type in "Jon (without an "h") Schumacher in the search field for "memorial/donation" accounts. We are not able to track your generous offering if you provide a cash donation -- so we thank you in advance. The tribute donation link to the left goes directly to the Caring Bridge organization so they can continue to provide this invaluable service to the families and friends of injured and ill loved ones.
Also, 10 gauge clothing and Wendys have teamed up to raise funds for the family. Please check out www.10gmonkey.com to purchase a custom shirt in Jon's honor!
The other side of the coin in honor of National Caregiver Month
Nov 24, 2013 3:13pm
A nonprofit asked me to write my side of this journey our family has been through. The side of the caregiver, the side most people do not see. Since its National Caregiver Month, I thought I would share it with everyone for the first time.
My name is Courtney Schumacher. I am the proud mother of twoboys and the wife of a triple amputee. Cpl Jon Schumacher was injured inAfghanistan on October 30, 2011 on a foot patrol. He retired on June 30, 2013and we are currently rehabilitating in Southern California.
There is an entirely different side to the life of a woundedwarrior that is not often seen, the side of their family. Their family plays acrucial role in the rehabilitating process not only physically, but mentallyand emotionally as well.
I will never forget the Sunday morning of October 30, 2011.I was sitting on the floor with our oldest son Ethan making our “Veteran’s Day”care package for Jon when I noticed an incoming call from a Virginia phonenumber. As I choked up I could hear my heart pounding, I knew exact what thiscall was about. I sent Ethan on a task in the house which allowed me to answerin private. I knew it was bad or he would be calling me himself, as I heardsome of the other husbands had done. The Gunnery Sergeant introduced himselfand after that I couldn’t hear a thing. Every time he spoke I heard a ringingin my ear. I apologized and asked him to email me the casualty report so that Imay process it all. After reading the report two dozen times, it was time forme to contact his parents. How do you tell them that their son stepped on anIED and lost both of his legs, possibly a hand, and a suffered multiple otherinjuries? When Ethan returned I sat himon my lap. I knew how important it was that I stayed calm and collective. Notonly for Ethan but for Easton, who was currently in his third trimester in mywomb. Ethan wrapped his arms around me and reminded me that God was protectinghis daddy and everything was going to be ok.
It was the day before Halloween and hours have gone by withno news. To keep my family busy we visited the park after grabbing our favoritefrozen yogurt. I pushed Ethan on the swings while tightly gripping my phone, asif it would make it ring sooner. Regardlessof how much I wanted to scream, I kept a smile while we carved pumpkins androasted pumpkin seeds like we do every Halloween eve. Jon was in the process of transferring toGermany where he would stay until he was stable enough to return to the states.We received on average two updates a day, which made the days drag on terribly.The next morning I had plenty of questions to answer from our son. We spenthours on the computer looking at photos and watching videos of wounded warriorsand their prosthetics. Ethan was so excited to see dad get transformer legs.Soon after I got X-men dressed and ready to go trick or treating before we hadour traditional chili dinner. I could see the pain in my neighbor’s eyes but Iflashed them a smile to put them at ease and allow my son a “normal” Halloweenexperience.
The next couple of days were long as we waited for Jon toreturn from the states. I called the international phone number so many timesthat they answered it with “Hi Mrs. Schumacher…” I asked the nurse to describemy husband’s injuries, not just his lost limbs but everything from the top ofhis head to the end of his numbs. My goal with this was to paint a visual ofwhat to expect when I saw him. The last thing I wanted was to look shocked andcause my husband to feel self-conscious. I filled up two sheets of paper withthe descriptions of each scratch, cut, bruise, and incision. Soon after, Jon’svitals stabilized and he was able to be removed from the ventilator to travel.
My dad stood in line with me as I checked in with AmericanAirlines. I left Ethan home with my parents so he may finish preschool and histball season with the Dodgers. The hospital was no place for him and I knew whata good mother would want for him. I patiently waited until I was able to passthrough security, even though I wanted to push everyone out of my way and runto my gate. I sat there in the airport terminal all alone while my heartpounded out of my chest.
Upon my arrival to the East Coast, I was escorted by aMarine from the Battalion to the Navy Lodge on base. Since it was pastmidnight, I decided to try and rest before I saw him in the morning. Of courseI sat on the end of my bed breathing heavily while reviewing my notes, as if Ihad a final to take the next day. I got dressed and rushed out the door. Iwalked up hill in the snow in my O’Neil flip flops. Since I am a Californianative, I didn’t own any other form of footwear. I later found out that theMarines had arranged to escort me to my husband, unfortunately I couldn’t waitthat long. I rushed through the halls of the hospital, slipping and slidingeverywhere while I stopped at every information booth I passed. When I finallyreached the room in the ICU ward that said “Cpl Schumacher, I paused. He saw mestanding in the doorway and called for me. I ran to him, wrapped my arms aroundhim, and kissed him as if he was ready to board that bus once again. The nursegrabbed me. Since he was on a no contact order I had to gown up immediately. I apologized for his injuries and begged menot to look at him. I held his hand whilelooking him up and down. I flashed him a smile and insisted that he was just asbeautiful as the night I met him. This moment was like a fairytale, the feelgood Hollywood movie scene that I wished had lasted longer.
The hours grew harder and moretrying. He doesn’t remember anything after this moment but to me it is always afresh memory. In the same way that your husband doesn’t tell you about thethings he witnessed during war, until recently I never spoke of the things Iexperience during this time. It was my way of keeping the memories buried awayin hopes to save him from any pain or challenges that were experienced.
As the pain increased so did themedications. He would love me one moment, hate me the next, and then before youknew it he had no clue who I was. He screamed and cried in his sleep and grewvery fearful and paranoid. As the fevers and the nightmares worsened, I wouldstay awake and sing to him while wiping the sweat from his forehead. Although Iwas not blessed with a singing voice it seemed to help silence his screams. Ididn’t have access to a bed while he was in ICU, so I would line up three metalfolding chairs that I “inquired” during my stay. I learned that if I lined themup opposite ways, it would give my 35 week stomach room without allowing me toroll off in my sleep. I held his hand through the enjoying the random squeezeshe would return my way. During these few weeks I remember being woken by teamsof doctors. They would quickly escort me from the room even though I begged tostay. His health was not consistent at this time. I can still feel the doctor’shands grabbing me when I ran and tried to catch the elevator with him toemergency surgery. I had nowhere else to go, being by his side had turned intothe only thing I knew feel the pressure on my arms from the doctors.
With the pain, confusion, andmedication, came the anger and frustration. I learned to agree with whatever hesaid and apologize for things I wasn’t aware of. This isn’t a time to be pridefulthis is a time to be a supporter, in any way you can. Although I assured himevery time he asked, I was never going to leave him. He wasn’t able to holddown food, so my daily meals consisted of whatever he couldn’t eat. I couldn’tstand to sit back and watch the nurses care for my husband. I watched andstudied their every move and stood closely so I could learn. Before you knewit, the only thing his nurses had to do was administer pain medications andtake his vitals. This was my husband. He sacrificed so much our family, thiswas the least I could do in return.
The small amount of free time I had,I used it to attend OBGYN appointments, read mail, and call our son back homein California. The light at the end of the tunnel came when we were finallymoved to the main floor. We were able to meet with physical therapists and Jonwas able to start a regular surgery schedule consisting of six hours a daythree days a week. As strange as it might sound, the regular surgery schedulewas a breath of fresh air compared to the unexpected surgeries. I met with over30 doctors and signed 6-8 consent forms a day. I picked their brains and askeda lot of questions. By this time we had established consistency and focus onthe future. The mothers of other severely wounded Veterans became my bestfriends. Unfortunately, I had learnedovertime to not make friends with other wives. I often found myself bondingwith another spouses and the within a week they would be gone.
My parents had booked a flight withour son Ethan to be with us for Easton’s birth and Christmas. It was veryimportant to me that this trip was special, especially for Ethan. I would takea taxi into town while Jon was having his surgeries done. I was able to getstocking, decorations, a few presents, and more. I wrote an email to Jon’simmediate family asking them to choose one ornament that represents Jon andmail it to us. His hospital room was decorated by the time he returned and hewas overwhelmed with the ornaments. We unwrapped each one and hung them on asmall tree his mom had mailed us. I wanted to distract my family from any painor sadness they felt, and I knew that was accomplished by the tears on Jon’seyes.
Our time with Ethan was amazing.Every year, Jon and Ethan made a gingerbread house and to see them continuethat tradition in a hospital bed on a dining tray was priceless. I had to leavethat moment early because Easton made it clear that it was time. I left theroom and went up two floors with my mom by my side. When you are an expectingmother, you have this vision of what your pregnancy and labor will be like. Youare used to the attention of bearing a new child. Although our situationrequired the attention elsewhere I knew it was where it needed to be. The nextmorning I went into labor with our second son. I told the nurse that shecouldn’t deliver me until my husband was there. A call was made and a dozendifferent doctors and nurses transferred Jon from his bed into awheelchair. He was brought to my bedsidejust in time and was given the scissors to cut his umbilical cord. We sharedlaughs and tears then took the time to rest. At two days old, Easton and I hadboth moved into Jon’s hospital room.
Christmas morning came quick, and wewere able to watch Ethan open his gifts while Easton snuggled beside Jon in hisbed. I knew our Christmas needed more. I searched unlocked conference rooms,where I gathered folding tables and chairs. His nurse helped me transfer Joninto his wheelchair and we rolled his bed out into the hallway. We set up Jon’sroom with tablecloths and plastic tableware. A generous nonprofit organization catered a Christmas dinner and we wereable to sit, laugh, and enjoy as a family. Our visit with Ethan was over asquickly as it started. My parents knocked on my door early the next morning totake Ethan back to California. He couldn’t understand why he needed to returnhome. He squeezed my neck and begged me to stay. I cried hysterically in thehotel hallway as my dad carried him away kicking and screaming.
Jon’s recovery had progressed as faras it could as an impatient. We spent the next month preparing to be relocatedto San Diego. Unfortunately, a home was not available to us. The list ofwounded warriors who needed homes was astounding. In the meantime, they stayedin barracks on base until a home was available. Children are not permitted tostay in barracks so they set us up in hotel room for two months. Thisexperience made those hard first few weeks with Jon seem not so bad. Ethan wasstill adapting to Jon’s injury, we had a brand new baby, and Jon was justlearning how to be an outpatient. We spent several hours a day cramped in thathotel room. The tension and the stressescalated daily. We were able to enroll Ethan into a local Christian preschoolso he could finish out the year and avoid most of the struggles we faced daily. As a mom you do everything you can tocreate a safe and loving home, it killed me when I wasn’t able to provide thatto my family. We relocated to differenthotels during this time period due to booking conflicts.
You could imagine our excitementwhen a two story three bedroom townhome became available. Although it didn’tmeet the obvious ADA requirements, it was a mansion compared to the hospitaland hotel rooms. We made this our home for over a year. With the master bedroomdownstairs we were able to make it work. I gave assistance to Jon daily and heprogressed in his rehabilitation. Ethan started Kindergarten while Easton wouldwatch Jon and me from his stroller. We worked hard every day in therehabilitation, our marriage, and our family. As a result of Jon’s injury,Ethan struggles with sever anxiety. He was diagnosed with PTSD in May of 2013.I was able to take the same techniques I do with Jon and apply them to Ethan.As Jon’s nightmares have suppressed, Ethan’s have intensified. There are nightsthat I sit on the edge of his bed with a baseball bat until he falls asleepjust to assure him that he will be safe. He screams and cries in his sleep asif he is fighting his own war. He has convinced himself that the Taliban willreturn to kill his father and hurt his family. I have learned that his mind isset, so the only thing I can do is show him daily protection until he maturesenough to understand. I often wonder how Easton will grow up since he never methis dad without injuries. I pray for them daily and I know that God isprotecting their innocent heart and minds.
People have always sympathized forme because of the pain and sadness I must have felt. I can honestly say I didn’texperience those feelings. When I was informed my husband was severely wounded,yet stable, I felt a sense of relief. I knew my husband was safe and was cominghome to me. Now I could hold him, wipe his tears, build his soul, silence hisscreams, help heal his wounds and keep him safe. I knew that he would neverhave to step foot on a battlefield again. I knew that every time the doorbellrang from that point, I knew it was safe to answer. I knew our sons would neverfeel the pain of losing their father. I knew that I had the honor to give backand care for the man who cared enough to serve two deployments inAfghanistan. Our life is a constant uphill battle, but it’s our battle and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
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