GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – 7News Carolina’s Family is honoring Upstate veterans who served in war and continued to serve others when they got back home.
That includes Iraq War Marine, David Nardone.
Nardone was part of the first wave that rode into Baghdad in 2003, soon after the war began.
When he got home, he was still troubled by some of the things he saw on the front lines of combat and, his solution for saving himself, was to serve others.
His private charity organization, Fellow Countrymen, provides PTSD support and housing for homeless vets.
At least one veteran credits Nardone with saving his life.
“That’s what we’re supposed to do, man,” Nardone said. “We’re supposed to be there for each other.”
It wasn’t until he got home from Iraq that Nardone learned just how badly he’d been wounded by the war.
Crippled by addiction, homeless for 6 months and still blinded by the things he’s seen.
“I’ve got these images of a man carrying his charred body of his child out screaming at us … and it’s the charred body of a child … after we dropped a bomb on the building,” he said. “It’s crippling, man. It can be crippling at times.”
Like all true heroes, Nardone’s salvation is through his service — handing hamburgers to the homeless once a month in Greenville or marching for mental health in Traveler’s Rest.
It’s his own story of struggle that connects Nardone to his cause.
“My PTSD is from my combat experience in Iraq in 2003,” Nardone said. “I’m not going to get into the gory details of what I experienced. Instead of hiding behind it anymore and refusing to acknowledge it. It decided to do something about it.”
Artem Korikov said Nardone’s work saved him from a life on the streets.
“I probably wouldn’t be breathing… probably wouldn’t be … I’m not really sure where I’d be,” Korikov said.
Because of his success at Fellow Countrymen, Korikov is back in uniform.
“I’m a corrections officer,” Korikov said. “I provide safety and security within the facility.”
Nardone has a plan to raise money by 2020 to save more vets, those who served in combat and those like Artem, who were willing to sign-up, but ran into trouble along the way.