An airman who survived the most catastrophic war wounds in the service’s history has started a fundraiser — with a goal of $1 billion — in an effort to pay for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Brian Kolfage, a triple-amputee Purple Heart recipient, started the GoFundMe account, “We The People Will Fund The Wall,” amidst ongoing deliberations on how the border wall, a campaign promise of President Donald Trump, will actually be funded.
Trump most recently stated it will be U.S. troops who are tasked with building the wall if Democrats refuse to fund the project, a notion the president emphasized over a series of Dec. 19 tweets discussing border security.
Kolfage, meanwhile, had enough of the delays resulting from back-and-forth funding discussions, and decided to encourage the American public — specifically those who voted for President Trump — to pay for the controversial project.
“If the 63 million people who voted for Trump each pledge $80, we can build the wall,” Kolfage wrote on the fundraiser page. “That equates to roughly $5 billion, Even if we get half, that’s half the wall. We can do this.”
Donations have been pouring in since Kolfage started the fundraiser three days ago, already generating more than $5 million from a total of more than 82,000 donors.
Kolfage says 100 percent of the donations will go toward wall construction, and that a point of contact within the Trump administration has been made to secure "where all the funds will go upon completion.”
In the event the goal — or a total sum in the neighborhood of the goal — is not reached, Kolfage says every donor will receive a full refund.
“This won’t be easy, but it’s our duty as citizens,” he says.
Kolfage became the most catastrophically wounded airman to survive his injuries when, while deployed to Iraq on Sept. 11, 2004, a 107mm enemy rocket impacted just three feet away from him.
Both of his legs were instantly shredded, he lost his dominant right hand and his lung collapsed.
Medics would go on to perform hours of life-saving surgery before placing Kolfage on a flight to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, where he arrived only 36 hours after being wounded — the fastest medevac to the U.S. from a war zone in history.
Kolfage completed rehab and walked out of the hospital only 11 months after being wounded.
“As a veteran who has given so much — three limbs — I feel deeply invested to this nation to ensure future generations have everything we have today,” he wrote on the fundraiser page.
A donation of this scale to fund a federal project may be unprecedented, but it would not mark the first time the government has accepted large contributions from private donors.
Billionaire David Rubenstein, co-founder of the Washington-based private-equity firm, the Carlyle Group, donated nearly $40 million between restoration and preservation projects on the Washington Monument, the Marine Corps War Memorial’s Iwo Jima sculpture, President James Madison’s historic Virginia residence, Robert E. Lee’s Arlington House and the White House Visitor Center.
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.