Sgt Milan Franklin

Shelton, WA

Milan Franklin joined the Marines because he felt like he needed to do something to protect and defend his country.

On Oct. 15, 2011, during his second deployment with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, Marine Sergeant Franklin was returning from a night observation post when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Sangin, Afghanistan. The blast resulted in the loss of both his legs and two fingers on his right hand.

Sgt Franklin’s squad acted quickly to prep him to be evacuated, applying tourniquets and administering morphine. He was transferred from the battlefield to the hospital in under 20 minutes.

Once back in the United States, Milan was treated at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego and retired from the Marines in September 2013.

Milan received a service dog during his recovery, which got him interested in training service dogs. It also led him to meeting his girlfriend, Delaree Hart, who is also a dog trainer. Milan now works with the nonprofit Patriotic Service Dog Foundation, which trains service dogs for Veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI). “It is unimaginably rewarding to be able to give back after everything others have done for me since being injured,” he says.

When he’s not busy working on expanding PSDF throughout Washington State, Milan enjoys drawing and outdoor activities like hiking, hunting, and camping. He is also musically inclined – he grew up playing drums, and took up playing the guitar after his injury.

Though Milan now spends much of his time helping others, he faces obstacles of his own. Since being injured he has not lived in an accessible home. Not having a bathroom or kitchen wide enough for his wheelchair makes everyday tasks like brushing his teeth or cooking a challenge. A specially adapted Homes For Our Troops home with wide doorways and a roll in shower will allow Milan to do these tasks easily, opening up more time to pursue his goals. Eventually, he would like to return to school and study computer science.

Milan says he cannot find the words to express his gratitude toward HFOT’s donors, supporters, and volunteers. “It is truly incredible to come home after everything I’ve been through and see firsthand how much the United States as a country supports our Veterans,” he says. “Receiving this home means the world to me. I will finally be able to breathe and feel at home.”