Marine Corps veteran stays connected through service
Marine Corps veteran stays connected through service
At 27, U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Adam Foutz medically retired in October 2015, after nearly 10 years of dedicated military service due to complications from an autoimmune disease.
The wounded warrior enlisted in the U.S. Marines the summer prior to beginning his senior year in high school. He selected the Marines deliberately due to the impact a neighbor he met in his youth had on him.
Joining the "Crème de la crème"
Foutz was an avid runner in his youth and planned to work toward a running scholarship to go to college because he knew he and his mom couldn't afford the expense.
"I was raised by a single mother with five kids. I'm the youngest," he said. "Our area wasn't the best, and most kids got into sports, pursued education, or ended up on drugs."
He also didn't know much about the military growing up. But when a new neighbor, Tony, moved down the street from his family's home in Girard, Ohio, Foutz's world changed.
Tony, his dogs, and Foutz quickly became friends, with Tony sharing his stories about his time at QuanticoOpens FBI.gov, training dogs for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Tony had suffered a career-ending car accident that left him paralyzed.
"I would help him with his dogs and around the house," recalled Foutz. "He would consistently encourage me to consider leaving the area, joining the service—specifically the Marine Corps—because they were the "crème de la crème," as he would say."
Years later, the summer before starting his senior year in high school, a buddy from his cross-country running team at school invited Foutz to church.
"The youth pastor talked about finding God's plan for my life," he said. "I prayed about it, was open to it, and a month later, I got a call from a Marine Corps recruiter."
By then, it had become clear he would not get the scholarship he had sought to attend college.
"Considering all factors, my faith, and keeping my mom in mind, it seemed reasonable to pursue the Marine Corps," he said.
After all, Tony had sold him on the idea it was "the best" military branch.
"Joining the Marine Corps during a time of war didn't make the decision easier, but [my mom and I] both felt it was my calling and the right path to pursue," he said.
It was 2005. One month after the recruiter's call, Foutz enlisted in the Marines through the Delayed Entry Program. This meant he would finish high school and ship to boot camp with the Marines in an open contract after graduating.
A Successful Career
"I ended up being placed under supply administration, which I felt would be a great career path," said Foutz. "I thought it branched into accounting and could be a good transferable skill beyond the Marine Corps, if and when that time came."
It turned out that supply administration went into asset management, internal controls, records management, acquisitions, contracting, procurement, logistics, financial management, and some accounting, he explained—fields that taught him the skills for his current role supporting the Defense Health Agency's Contract Acquisition ExecutiveOpens Health.mil office.
During a deployment to Okinawa, Japan, Foutz was recognized for obtaining 100% accountability of U.S. assets and managing over $2 million in global war on terrorism funds in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
In later assignments, he was recognized as Marine of the Quarter and Support Marine of the Year. He also served as instructor of water survival as well as for the Marine Corps Martial Arts ProgramOpens Fitness.Marines.mil
Despite his success, in 2009, Foutz started to suffer unexpected weight loss and fatigue. It took a year for doctors to diagnose him with ulcerative colitis.
"I tried to push through it, but the severity of my condition made it difficult for me to graduate from drill instructor school," he explained. "Following the medical officer's advice, I left the program and was transferred to Marine Forces Special Operations Command, where my condition prevented me from participating in MARSOC deployments."
A relapse at a later assignment marked the beginning of Foutz's process to medically retire.
"In 2014, I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, before attending a Medical Evaluation Board," he said. "This experience completely changed the trajectory of my life and career. I was on a relatively fast-track for promotion."
Foutz was medically retired the following year.
After his diagnosis, the treatment became more aggressive, resulting in side effects including liver damage, decreased bone density, muscular atrophy, arthralgia, and joint pain.
"Some treatments came with neurological side effects that caused my legs to give out and overtime, caused me to struggle to walk for nearly a year," he said.
Life After Retirement
Still, retirement and the side effects of his treatment have not stopped Foutz from serving. As a wounded warrior and retiree, he continues to support the military and veteran community in his role at DHA.
He helps improve processes and manage risks "that directly support the program offices, contracts, and agreements that support our service members, veterans, and beneficiaries," he said.
He has been recognized for implementing a risk management and internal control program for the Military Health System and for assisting the DHA in drafting its "first-ever" annual financial report, among other distinctions.
In addition, he developed a new mission and vision for his life: To "give back to our service members and veterans through advocating for Military Adaptive Sports programsOpens Warriorcare.DODlive.mil and educating service members and veterans about Recovery CoordinationOpens Warriorcare.DOD.live.mil programs."
He also actively participates in the Military Adaptive Sports Program as an athlete and advocate.
The moments of darkness helped Foutz realize he "had endless possibilities", he said. Despite struggling to walk, he worked to regain his physical strength and began participating in challenges, including a body building competition and a 50-kilometer race in 2019, and a virtual 100-mile race in 2022.
"Being connected to the active-duty military and military veteran community is invaluable," he said. "As I share my story, it reinforces the healing in my life, but I also see the hope and encouragement it brings to other wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans."
He feels that sharing his story bridges gaps and raises awareness.
"I think we all experience setbacks and life events that require us to reevaluate our lives," he said. "By sharing and being connected, I believe it helps people to understand that—even though their circumstances may be unique—they are not alone in their recovery, in their transition, and there is more life to be lived and experienced beyond our current circumstances."
Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!
Follow us on social media!