Taking Care of Our Own | The DNA of The Semper Fi & America's Fund

At the recent PXG College Golf Showcase, two teams of college students competed to raise money for nonprofits, including The Semper Fi & America's Fund. Watch PXG Founder, Bob Parsons sat down with The Fund's chairman – Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph F. Dunford Jr. – and comedian/Marine Rob Riggle to discuss The Fund's mission and how PXG will continue playing a part.

Rob:

Gentlemen, what an honor it is to be here with you, two other Marines. I am a Marine as well. So Bob Parsons, you've done so much. And of course, General Dunford, you've done so much for Marines. Let's talk about the Semper Fi Fund, the Semper Fi & America's Fund now. I've been with this so long, back when it was just the Semper Fi Fund, but now we've added America's Fund as well to that. Can you tell me if you don't mind General, jumping in on this one? I'm curious, educate us on what the mission is.

General Dunford:

Sure. Well, as you know, Rob, a number of men and women who serve, have catastrophic wounds and injuries that really have a big impact in their lives. And so the primary purpose of the fund is to give them as much of the independence and the quality of life as they would've had in the context of their injuries.

Rob:

Well, and there is. When I talk to people about this, they say, "Well, isn't the government taking care of that? Doesn't Uncle Sam, isn't they supposed to jump in and do that?" And yes, to a certain degree they do, but there's always gaps. There's always gaps. And I always feel like that's what the Semper Fi & America's Fund really helps to do. Is that accurate?

General Dunford:

Look, I couldn't agree more. That's exactly right. I mean, there's only so much the government is going to do. And then the private sector has to pick up and fill those gaps as you talked about. And that's exactly what we seek to do.

Rob:

Good. Awesome.

Rob:

Mr. Parson, you have spearheaded so many different projects, so many different ways to help our veterans, obviously being a big supporter of the Semper Fi & America's Fund, you also do a lot in other ways. What are you happy to see going on here?

Bob Parsons:

Well, I love the fact that the Semper Fi Fund is being represented here and most capably by General Dunford, who heads it up now and he's made a nice difference. The fund has made a tremendous difference. My wife and I have been supporting them for, I'd say the better part of 10 years, if not more than 10 years. And so we're very excited about that. And we also have a number of other military organizations we support, but right at the moment, we're focused on the Semper Fi Fund.

Rob:

Well, and you've always done a really good job too, of finding different ways, I've found, to support the Semper Fi Fund. Not only do you directly support them, but you also support them in other ways, by matching other people's work, myself included. I had a golf tournament that I did for a while for the Semper Fi Fund. And you were always very gracious about, "Well, what did he raise? He raised that much? I'll match it." And it always doubled the numbers, which was, I found, just truly remarkable. And I always appreciated that too. So thank you.

Bob Parsons:

No, it's always our pleasure to do something like that.

Rob:

The Semper Fi Fund & America's Fund, obviously it has this big Marine Corps, us being Marines and has this Marine Corps heritage and tradition behind it. But I don't want people to get the wrong impression that it's just for Marines.

General Dunford:

No, Rob, it started by Marine spouses in the first, probably 10 years of the fund, it was exclusively for Marines. And frankly, the Army, when they saw the model that the Semper Fi Fund had established, the case management, the visiting nurses, the veteran to veteran program. They actually asked us if we could support soldiers. And so this past year, we actually went over 50% of the folks that we supported in 2021 weren't Marines, but we're still helping all the Marines that need to be helped. But we've added to that. The soldiers, the sailors and the Army men and coastguardsmen, in some cases that need help as well.

Rob:

Marine wives started this didn't they?

General Dunford:

Marine spouses started it. I was fortunate enough, Bob and I talked earlier. We were in the first Marine division at the time. This was the early days of the war in Iraq. Marines and sailors were coming home. Their families didn't have any place to stay when they came to visit in the hospital, they didn't have transportation in some cases, basic toiletries and necessities. And so a group of spouses sat around a kitchen table at Camp Pendleton, California said, speaking of gaps, we're going to fill this gap. And they started and now it's grown into the organization that we're talking about today, significantly different. But the DNA is Marine spouses taking care of Marines and sailors.

Rob:

I love that. Necessity is the mother of invention and there was a need and in classic Marine Corps and Marine Corps spouse tradition, they jumped in and did what they needed to do. And it's grown ever since then.

General Dunford:

And Rob, I should mention Karen Gunther, who is the CEO, was the founder. And so the original group of spouses that sat around that kitchen table almost 20 years ago are still with the fund.

Rob:

That's fantastic. I'd love to hear that. Mr. Parsons, you're a Vietnam veteran. You served in the Marine Corps, honorably... wounded... There's a lot of things that you want to see done with regard to the care of our Marines. Not only the Marines that are coming out of the most current conflicts but also the Vietnam Marines.

Bob Parsons:

I look forward to the day when our veterans come home and because the treatment we're able to provide them, they're actually better off as far as PTSD is concerned than when they went into the military. That's the goal.

Rob:

That would be amazing. That would be something obviously to strive for, clearly. The college showcase. I mean, this is an excellent opportunity to put the Semper Fi Fund & America's Fund out there for the world to see, hopefully raise some money. What are your hopes for this week? I'll put that out there to both of you.

Bob Parsons:

Well, here's what I'm hoping. I'm hoping we have a spirited contest. I hope both funds have a way to raise more needed funds that Renee, my lovely wife and I are going to put up to our foundation and we're just going to stand back and see what happens, hope for the best for both of them. And off we go.

Rob:

All right. Sir?

General Dunford:

I'm hoping Rob, that somebody in the 18th hole tomorrow sinks a 40 foot putt and actually has the Semper Fi & America's Fund edge up, might Sinai at the end, but that both organizations get the visibility that I know we will from the tournament, but also the support that we need to take care of our people, in both organizations and winners, obviously over the course of the day.

Rob:

Absolutely. No, I like your plan. I like your plan. It's a proven plan. It's a proven plan.

General Dunford:

That's what I heard.

Bob Parsons:

I think you like his plan because you're captain of the Semper Fi team.

Rob:

That's right. That's right. And we're going to do good things. I have no doubt about it

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