Marine with local ties battles back from brain injury

| June 2, 2017

CANAL LEWISVILLE – After 24 years in the Marine Corps, Emily Graves was used to hearing about her son going overseas.

“He’s gone lots of times, but you never want to hear your son is going to be in harm’s way and Afghanistan is still a war zone,” said Graves, who lives in Canal Lewisville.

Emily’s son, David, volunteered for his deployment to Afghanistan so the Marine’s would move him and his family to Virginia where he would be closer to his father who was dying of cancer. However, shortly after his father passed away the family had to deal with another traumatic event.

In December 2015 Emily got the call no military mom wants. At that time her son David was stationed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan with the Marines. He was injured in an accident when a helicopter sent metal Air Force pallets flying through the air and one of them hit David in the head.

“You become very numb when you get that call,” Emily said. “The Marine Corps called several times a day though to update his wife Jamie and me on his condition.”

She said they first flew David to a big military hospital in Afghanistan and then took him to Germany.

“They told us the next three days would be critical and that we could lose him,” Emily said. “The Semper Fi Fund paid for me, his brother Aaron, David’s wife Jamie and their two kids to go to Germany. He was unconscious but when Jamie and I saw him we just knew he was going to be fine.”

With the love and support of his family David is continuing to fight back and amaze those around him.

“His brain is still healing, but when he left the hospital he had glasses and hearing aids and now his vision and hearing are fine,” Emily said.

After five surgeries on his head and nearly two years of being in the hospital, David started working with Garrett Green from Green Fitness and Wellness Center in Fredericksburg, Va.

“He was always a runner so when he came home Jamie knew she had to get him involved in something fitness related,” Emily said. “When he met Garrett, his trainer, they were a perfect fit.”

Garrett helped David rebuild his strength and balance and on May 21 they ran together in the Semper 5ive race in Virginia. They wanted to finish the five mile race in less than an hour and 10 minutes and they beat that goal with a time of 46.1 minutes. Emily said David also came in first.

“It was nice to see him cross that finish line because he worked really hard for this,” she said.

Jamie also ran the race and Emily said their children, Isaac, 17 and Emma 14, joined him a half mile out from the finish line and handed him a Marine Corps flag to carry.

Another goal David had for the race was to raise money for the Semper Fi Fund. His original goal was $3,000, but Emily said the last she heard he was close to $10,000 with a total of $8,300.

The Semper Fi Fund not only helped send David’s family to Germany, but representatives also visited while he was in the hospital and the organization is paying for him to train at Green Fitness and Wellness Center.

“We are so grateful for them and grateful that David is still with us,” Emily said. “He’s really defied the odds and that’s because of the love of his family.”

David received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal for his time in Afghanistan.

“He’s accepted what happened and is just thankful to be alive and grateful for his wife and children,” Emily said. “He couldn’t ask for a better soul mate than Jamie.”

She hopes sharing David’s story will help inspire someone else going through a difficult time.

“When you are down don’t give up,” Emily said. “David came from the bottom up.”

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Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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