Sgt. Christopher Santiago
PVI Friend (of current student)
Marine Sgt. Christopher Santiago was on his 3rd deployment when he lost both of his legs and severely injured his left arm and hand when he stepped on an IED while opening the gate to a Forward Operating Base (FOB) after returning from a night mission in Saklawia, Iraq on September 16, 2006. Having felt uneasy as if something bad had been in the general atmosphere for a couple of days, Sgt. Santiago was pleased to be returning to base after a day-long mission, followed by an unexpected late-night mission. Telling his radio operator to stay behind, Sgt. Santiago exited the HUMMVEE to open the concertina wire gate, a job usually performed by the radio operator. As he scanned the adjacent field and street, he stepped on an IED that had been buried at the gate. Never losing consciousness, Sgt. Santiago began checking himself for injuries and began to realize the dire condition he was in. Calling out to his fellow Marines to let them know he was alive, Sgt. Santiago recalls the looks of horror on the faces he passed as he was carried to the medical room on base, his friends visibly shaken.
The first medical helicopter sent to evacuate Sgt. Santiago to the forward surgical site disabled itself on landing and a second helicopter had to be dispatched. Chris recalls the doctors saying they would need to amputate his legs before slipping into a coma for nearly a week. Eventually transported to Landstuhl, Germany, Chris remained there for several days as doctors worked to stabilize him for the trip home. Spending two months at Bethesda Naval Medical Center, Chris was next moved to Walter Reed Army Medical Center where he would spend nearly a year recovering after more than fifty surgeries.
Sgt. Santiago enjoys spending time with his wife, Becky and their two young sons, Robert and Christopher. He enjoys reading and studying financial history subjects. Pursuing his Bachelorate degree in Global Business and Public Policy with a minor in Finance through the University of Maryland University College, Chris had attended Marshall University in Huntington, WV on a full academic scholarship prior to enlisting in the Marine Corps and placing his education on hold. He is a member of the Disabled American Veterans, Seeking Alpha Contributors, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and American Association for Individual Investors.
Sgt. Santiago would like to thank all of the donors and volunteers who will make his specially adapted home from Homes for Our Troops a reality. "For someone to care so much as to support this cause is incredible. There are rooms in my current home that while in my wheelchair I simply cannot go into. Assistance from Homes for Our Troops will change that completely. It will allow me to do more activities in my wheelchair which will alleviate many of my daily pains that I experience after being on my prosthetic legs beginning at 5AM. I will be comfortable in my own home again. Thank you for caring enough to make a difference."