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SWV Today 

2018 Retired Marine

Tim Maxwell is shown in his shop inside one of the barns on his Rural Retreat property, Semper Fi Farm.

   He is a combat wounded veteran who is trying to help others like himself.

 Glenna Crabtree-BullinsT

who helps wounded combat veterans 

Glenna Crabtree-Bullins | Staff 

Aug 11, 2018

Tim Maxwell, lieutenant colonel, United States Marine Corps, retired, a combat wounded disabled veteran, will be the guest speaker when the town of Marion and Francis Marion VFW Post 4667 host the annual Spirit of ’45 celebration this year on Aug. 12 at 3 p.m. at the Smyth County Courthouse. As has been the 

 

custom since 2010 when the event was first observed locally, World War II veterans will be honored for their service to their country and fellow Americans.

Sharon Buchanan of Rich Valley will sing songs from the WWII era, and Lori Ringley with the Chamber of Commerce of Smyth County will sing the national anthem. State representatives will attend the celebration and Smyth County elected officials are encouraged to attend. Rolling Thunder of East Tennessee will also attend to show support of the WWII veterans and all veterans.

Maxwell and his wife, Shannon, own and operate Semper Fi Farm in Rural Retreat, along with the SemperMax Support Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping combat wounded veterans.

Maxwell and his wife met while attending Texas A&M. He was from Ohio, and Shannon was from Texas. He was commissioned in 1988 and served in the Marine Corps, infantry division, for 21 years.

“Historically Shannon’s family has been in every war ever fought,” Maxwell said, adding that he has an uncle who was a Marine.

The Maxwells have three children, Alexis is working on her masters’ degree, Eric is pursuing a career in the Marines, and Cassidy is a sophomore at Rural Retreat High School.

Maxwell said he was born to be a Marine and to serve in the infantry. In 2004, he was mortared in Kalsu, just outside of Bagdad, Iraq, suffering multiple injuries, including shrapnel to his brain. Typically, his injuries would have resulted in him being processed out of the Marines, but his wife contacted General Amos and the general understood that Maxwell needed a purpose. Maxwell accompanied General Amos and saw “wounded guys just sitting in rooms, bored, with nothing to do. They were wounded, but still deployed. We requested that all the wounded be placed in the same barracks. That was in 2005. Within one year that barracks was full,” he said.

Most of the wounded Marines had trouble sleeping, so they would watch movies together and provide camaraderie and support to each other, Maxwell said. In 2007, the Wounded Warrior Regiment, operated by the Marine Corps, opened. Each branch of the service now has a similar program designed to support the wounded while they recover.

Maxwell pointed out that these programs differ from the Wounded Warrior program that is advertised on television, a program that he questions.

In 2009, Maxwell left the military, but he continued to work to help the combat wounded veterans. He founded the SemperMax Support Fund. Three years ago, he and Shannon purchased a 73-acre farm in Rural Retreat and he realized the farm would be an excellent place to provide combat-wounded veterans with therapy, camradery and a sense of purpose.

“In combat, camradery is addictive. Everybody is together. We bring wounded veterans to the farm to work as therapy,” Maxwell said, adding that combat wounded veterans have helped to build fences and add on to the barn. They might also enjoy fishing in the creek that runs through the property or helping out with the sheep or chickens.

There is no average time a veteran can stay at Semper Fi Farm, but Maxwell said most stay between two and 10 days.

“I just want to let the veterans know that I am here. Veterans miss the camaraderie and helping others,” Maxwell said.

Programs exist, like working on his farm, where wounded veterans can help others. Maxwell can use help on the farm with fence building and other chores and he knows veterans want to help others. It’s a win-win situation for the farm and for the wounded veterans who come there to stay.

“A place like this farm helps them to realize that their lives matter. Combat-wounded veterans need a purpose. They need togetherness, camaraderie. Working on the farm or just going fishing, it’s good therapy. If you’ve got it bad, just look around. It doesn’t take long to see someone who has it worse. Combat-wounded veterans need action. They need a mission, a purpose,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell’s foundation, SemperMax Support Fund, can provide assistance if wounded veterans need help to get to Semper Fi Farm. There is no charge to stay on the farm.

Maxwell also has helped to provide food for people in need in Haiti, a problem he saw firsthand on a recent trip to the country. He was touched by the number of children there who would ask for soccer balls, so when he returned to the United States, he helped to raise $1,200 to purchase 250 soccer balls for those children.

Additional information on Semper Fi Farm and SemperMax Support Fund can be found on Facebook, atwww.SemperMax.org or by calling Maxwell at 910-548-8024.

Spirit of '45 Day is observed on the second weekend in August, coinciding with the anniversary of Aug. 14, 1945, the day President Truman announced that the most destructive war in human history was over and spontaneous celebrations broke out around the world. 

In 2010, Congress unanimously voted in favor of a national Spirit of ’45 Day to preserve and honor the legacy of the men and women of the World War II.

In 2015, the Virginia General Assembly joined with other states in issuing a proclamation in support of Spirit of ’45 Day. Locally, Spirit of ’45 celebrations have been held in Marion for the last eight years. Marion was the first town in Virginia to hold a celebration commemorating the end of WWII.

Smyth County, like other communities nationwide, each year sees a dwindling number of World War II veterans, with most of these men and women in their 90s, resulting in fewer remaining to be honored at the ceremony.