FORT COLLINS, Colo. — John McGuire’s service to our country started like it did for many others.
“When 9/11 happened, it drew a lot of us young Americans in,” the Fort Collins resident said.
Just 20 years old at the time, he would go on to serve five tours overseas.
“I did a lot of tours,” McGuire said. “I was a paratrooper, Airborne Infantry. I did five total tours between Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Like many of his compatriots, that service didn’t come without a price.
“Some shrapnel in my hip. Deaf in one ear. I had a traumatic brain injury,” McGuire said. “I’m a Purple Heart recipient, Bronze Star recipient.”
After 17 years of service, he’s now back at home in Fort Collins. He and his wife, Jess, are happy at home, and John is now five years sober.
“I had to face the root cause of my PTSD and everything that was associated with it,” McGuire said. “And if it wasn’t for that, I probably would have died. People say the longer they go without drinking, the better their lives get. And it’s absolutely true.”
He still has a bad pancreas, which he has flushed every three months. McGuire is also a Type 1 diabetic. But a new job at Anheuser Busch is certainly giving them peace of mind.
“It was a game changer for us,” McGuire said. “For me, a more interesting environment to work in.”
Of course, they still have needs, which is why Denver7 Gives was made aware of their story.
At the moment, they’re renting a home on the west side of Fort Collins. They’re also playing catch-up financially after a recent car crash.
McGuire and Jess are unable to have kids of their own, but they've adopted three kids, including Jess' niece, 7-year-old Macie, and her nephew, 5-year-old Abel.
“My sister made some not-so-awesome choices in her lifetime,” Jess said. “She’s in federal prison right now. These kids, they deserve better than the cards they were dealt. They are so well-adjusted, and they just love it here.”
It is a happy home, decked out for the holidays. McGuire and Jess finally feel like they are getting their heads above water.
“Hopefully soon, we’ll have our shoulders out, too,” McGuire said.
“The kids are really excited for Christmas,” Jess said. “I mean, who’s not to love this time of year? John does what he has to, no matter what, to make sure we’re OK.”
Modest by any stretch, McGuire said he just hopes his service made a difference.
“I could not be more proud of him,” Jess said. “I’ve always called him my Captain America.”
“The most important thing is just educating people about what we did there,” McGuire said. “Not necessarily why.”
Denver7 Gives is collecting money to help McGuire and his family get their shoulders above water. If you would like to donate, visit the Denver7 Gives website and select "Help Veteran McGuire."
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