Lt. Commander (RET) Ramesh Haytasingh
At the 6th Annual Gramatica Family Foundation Kickball Tournament in October 2018, we surprised Lt. Commander Ramesh Haytasingh with the news that he would be the recipient of our next veteran home build.
Haytasingh enlisted in October 1997. His contract was for Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (B.U.D.S.) Training. Hours before the end of class 222 HELL-WEEK, he contracted Necrotizing Fasciitis (flesh-eating bacteria) in his right fingers, hand, and arm. After four surgeries, he would keep his right arm and his life but spent a year and a half rehabilitating.
Haytasingh did not let this stand in the way of his military career. From 1998 to 2013, he accomplished the following:
Corpsman A-school, Deep Sea Diving Medical Technician, Field Medical Service School, Static Line Jump School, Paramedic school – this is the pipeline for Navy Reconnaissance Corpsman.
Naval Special Clearance Team ONE – where he was a Combat Trauma Medic & an Assistant Mammal Handler.
Selected for the Navy’s “top 1%” command – Command Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU).
Served on: NSCT ONE, DEVGRU, EOD Mobile Units 3 and 12, along with SEAL Team III, & 3rd Special Forces Group
Six (5) deployments to Afghanistan
Two (3) deployments to Iraq
Completed Officer Candidate School and Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal School
Earned his Bachelor of Science Degree
Nearly completed an MBA (3-units short) but was redirected into a bilateral degree program at Naval Post Grad School to earn his Masters of Science degree in Guerrilla Warfare and begin his PhD in Information Sciences
Haytasingh would not complete the PhD program dissertation due to an incident which left him severely injured, changing the course of his life and career. Yet, in spite of his many surgeries and continuous therapy, Haytasingh continued to serve at USSOCOM as the Assistant Program Manager for Counter Improvised Explosive Devices and, later on, Officer In Charge of the Military Adaptive Sports section, which facilitates wounded, ill, and injured service members involved in adaptive sports of all kinds. He considers this role one of the most fulfilling of his career.
Lieutenant Commander Haytasingh retired after 21 years from the United States Navy SPECOPS community on August 1, 2018. In his non-military life, Haytasingh has three (amazing) kids, one cat, a service dog, a successful property management business, and a dynamic love of his new life. Today, he continues his work with veterans, and veteran organizations in the form of personal development and financial coaching through speaking opportunities and a weekly newspaper column written to highlight topics impacting our active duty and veteran military population.
US Army Specialist (RET) Charles Lemon
Charles “Charlie” Lemon is a 30 year old retired Army Specialist and Tampa native. SPC Lemon deployed to An Najaf, Iraq in August of 2010 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. On June 8th 2011, just 6 weeks before he was scheduled to return home, Charlie’s truck was hit by an EFP (Explosively Formed Penetrator) and, tragically, Lemon lost both of his legs in the attack. Since that life-changing day, Charlie spent 18 months recovering in San Antonio. Being bound to a wheelchair, Charlie would need a particular type of home to meet his needs. That’s when Charlie was introduced to Operation Finally Home and the Gramatica family. Still living life to the fullest, Charlie is striving to do great things in the community to help give back what was so graciously given to him.
US Army Staff Sgt. (RET) Justin Lansford
Assigned to 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Justin deployed to Iraq in April 2010 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and in February 2012 to Ghazni Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Justin served as a Team leader and machine gunner. On April 23, 2012, Justin was severely injured when a roadside bomb struck the truck from which he was machine-gunning. Justin suffered the loss of his left leg above the knee, crush injuries and nerve damage to his right leg, a ruptured spleen, damage to his liver and pancreas, two collapsed lungs, a broken back and burns to his right arm among other injuries. As part of his recovery, Lansford was paired with two-year-old Golden Retriever Gabe through the Warrior Canine Connection, which provides support dogs to wounded warriors to help them manage with daily life and treat PTSD.
US Air Force Staff Sgt. (RET) Laura Sellinger
Laura enlisted in the military on May 6, 2003 as an Intelligence Operations Specialist. During her time in the Air Force, she was honored with multiple awards such as the Joint Service Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal and more. Sellinger was first deployed to Iraq in June 2006 and remained overseas until February 2007. In August 2006, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded near her, resulting in a severe brain injury that would be the first of three she experienced during her time in Iraq. Sellinger was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the effects associated with her brain injuries when she was sexually assaulted at a base in Korea. She medically retired from service on June 23, 2008, leaving with a number of injuries.
US Army Specialist (RET) Stephen Peterson
On July 1, 2011, while deployed in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom with the Ft. Hood’s 36th Engineer Brigade, an explosive device destroyed the vehicle SPC Stephen Peterson was riding in. The explosion caused SPC Peterson to lose his right leg, fractured a hip, along with other trauma. Specialist Peterson returned to Florida, after months of extensive rehabilitation at Brooke Army Military Medical Center, to establish himself in the Tampa Bay area. The Gramatica Family Foundation and CPR, a local non-profit in the greater Tampa Bay Area began the process to assemble the participants needed to donate a home, while providing a rent-free condo in the Ybor area as the home was constructed.
US Army Specialist (RET) Luis Puertas
Army SPC Luis Puertas, from the 4th infantry division, was left a double amputee after an EFP explosion in Baghdad, Iraq, on September 20, 2006. SPC Puertas was the driver of the lead HUMVEE on a daily patrol near Sadar City when an unseen EFP, planted at the base of a light pole, launched into the vehicle. The explosion amputated both of his legs on impact and left him trapped beneath the 400 pound up-armored door of the HUMVEE. Miraculously, his team was able to extricate him from the wreckage and prepare him for medevac from the scene. Airlifted to a local military hospital and then to Landstuhl, Germany before finally arriving at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, SPC Puertas spent 14 months enduring surgeries and rehabilitation.