Semper Fi Fund Helped A Marine Launch A Custom Leather making Business
Wounds, injuries, and disabilities are often invisible. Some of our service members are injured at home, in a training environment. Retired Marine Corps Master Sergeant Schneider knows this all too well.
When Schneider enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1994, he was looking for something different. “I joined the Marine Corps to get away for awhile. I was in my last year of school studying kinesiology at Northern Michigan University and I up and joined the Marine Corps. I really thought I would do six years and go back to school after seeing the world,” said Schneider.
Schneider started his enlistment as a crew chief on CH-46 helicopters and then he transitioned to the V-22 Osprey, a replacement for the CH-46. Schneider became an aviation maintenance chief. It was in 2005, while in training in Maryland, that Schneider sustained his brain injuries.
“Both my injuries occurred in 2005. The first injury was while I was doing a flight test. A portion of the aircraft that I was crewing departed the aircraft in a violent manner and struck me in the right front side of my head. At the time it occurred I thought I was ok, but I had damage done to my brain. The second injury occurred later that year while training in a high-altitude pressure chamber,” said Schneider.
Sadly, Schneider was unaware of how severe his injuries were until years later. In 2013, Schneider experienced his first epileptic seizure. Unbeknownst to Schneider, the seizures had been occurring for years, in his sleep.
The road to recovery is long and arduous. Sometimes, traditional treatments and therapies work, and sometimes, people need something different.
Schneider has loved the arts since childhood. His original college major was theater arts. Even during his time in the Marine Corps, Schneider never forgot his love of the arts. While staying in Walter Reed, Schneider was introduced to music therapy.
“When I was in the hospital I was having multiple seizures every day. The doctors really had no reason I was still having seizures after the treatments and medicine they had me taking. The therapists thought I might be helped with the music and art portions of the therapy, and they were right. I started the next week with music therapy,” he recalled.
The seizures decreased, and Schneider rediscovered his love of music and singing. But there is more. Music therapy positively changed Schneider’s family. Owen, Schneider’s youngest son, has neurofibromatosis. It’s a disability that affects Owen’s balance. Owen can’t ride a bike, and lacks coordination; but Owen can play the drums. Owen is first chair in his music program at school. “We are now a musical family all due to my music therapist,” Schneider said.
I first read about Schneider in the Jacksonville Daily News. I was and still am inspired by Schneider. This is a person who has an invisible disability due to invisible wounds. Schneider is thriving and still serving.
How is Schneider still serving? Through Semper Fi Fund and the Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program. It’s no secret that Semper Fi Fund aids our injured service members. Their programs have changed many lives for the better. Schneider is one of many people who has received help from Semper Fi Fund. When Schneider could no longer drive, Semper Fi Fund was there getting him to and from appointments.
The Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program was established in 2011 for combat wounded, injured, or ill service members. By day, the program recipients ride horses and learn to care for them. During non-riding hours, participants learn to make leather goods. Many of the participants have taken the skills learned in the horsemanship program and become an apprentice through the Semper Fi Fund Apprenticeship Program.
It was through the Jinx McCain program that Schneider’s rediscovered love of the arts was put to work. The riding and leather crafting helped Schneider and he became involved in the apprenticeship program. Schneider now has a business in Swansboro, NC called, Leatherneck Leather.
“Every night when we finished riding we would do a leather project. I loved it! Pathways in my brain twisted and turned and I could see things in the leather and I wanted to create. I wanted to be a part of the apprenticeship program and I never looked back,” Schneider said.
We cannot see Schneider’s injuries or his disability. When people see Schneider, they have no idea how his injuries have changed him. Through Semper Fi Fund, music therapy, Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program, and Leatherneck Leather, Schneider has found a way to continue serving.
Check out Semper Fi Fund and their programs. You will be happy that you did.
By Susan Reynolds