How Yellow Ribbon Fund Helped Sean Prepare for His Life-Changing Surgery

, | October 27, 2022 | Ariana Caragliano

Together, we can help military members like Sean with ADA compliant housing while he awaits his life-changing surgery.

Most people cannot fathom an injury so severe, that they would seek to have an amputation. Yet Sean Sexton has fought for this medical intervention after exhausting all treatment alternatives over the last six years.

In 2014, while serving in the U.S. Air Force at Kunsan Air Base in Korea, Sean sustained a serious non-combat injury to his foot. Despite his bones being nearly shattered, Sean powered through the pain and continued his military assignments, even though his foot was not healing properly and the pain was becoming unbearable.

After two reconstructive surgeries within six months, Sean was cleared for deployment to the Middle East, requesting CAS (Close Air Support). With wounded troops in Afghanistan desperately waiting, Sean was called in for repair of an F-16 pilot’s oxygen equipment. As he raced across the desert to fix the issue, he re-shattered the foot that was barely held together. He hopped on one foot, for a distance exceeding two football fields, to complete the mission. Due to the overall delay, four service members passed away from combat sustained injuries.

Survivor’s guilt, flashbacks and PTSD from that day began to haunt him. The physical pain escalated to unbearable levels, and was worsened by CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) and nerve damage in his arms from overuse of crutches. In December 2017, Sean underwent his third reconstructive surgery. He was told that he had a 95% chance of never walking again, and was given narcotic medications to manage the pain. As his wife prepared to give birth to their second child, Sean’s physical and emotional health rapidly deteriorated, leading him into opioid addition. As his situation grew more desperate, he realized that he was lucky to be alive, and he had to turn his life around or potentially lose his family. As he focused on his mental health, he also went through endless research to find a solution for his chronic injury.

Sean finally arrived at Walter Reed in May, 2020, to be evaluated for a cutting-edge, experimental procedure known as a Ewing amputation. He had no place to stay, until he met Yellow Ribbon Fund staff, who quickly arranged temporary accommodations and then a YRF fully-furnished, ADA compliant apartment. In November 2020, Sean was approved for his lifechanging surgery and continues to live in the YRF apartment with his caregiver, while he awaits surgery in January 2021.

“Without Yellow Ribbon Fund’s support, I would not be here awaiting my surgery. I was not financially able to pay for hotels or a short-term apartment, let alone make sure my family was taken care of back home. I’m so grateful to Yellow Ribbon Fund, and can now look forward to eventually being able to walk, run, swim, and enjoy my life and family without excruciating pain.”

– Sean Sexton

Sean represents more than 1,700 wounded, injured or ill service members who are assisted each year by YRF. In 2020, we have seen a 20% increase in requests for assistance and the need is greater than ever. As we continue our YEAR END APPEAL, your donation will make a positive difference for the service members we assist, who have sacrificed so much while protecting our country.

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Ariana Caragliano

Ariana Caragliano

Mrs. Caragliano, formally a Program Specialist worked for The Graduate Center, conducting marketing research, building contact lists, and identifying program partners for event programs. Read More