Face of Defense: Wounded Warrior Regiment Founder Retires
By Marine Pfc. Jahn R. Kuiper
Special to American Forces Press Service
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va., Jul. 2, 2009 U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Timothy Maxwell stood stoicly silent as the crowd at his retirement ceremony rose to their feet and applauded. For those who knew of his incredible journey, they can’t help but let their emotions flow.
Lt. Col. Timothy Maxwell, a founder of the Wounded Warrior Regiment, receives the Legion of Merit for his dedicated service to the Wounded Warrior Regiment, by Col. Daniel P. Kelly, his retiring officer, June 26, 2009, at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Quantico, Va. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Jahn R. Kuiper
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Maxwell, one of the founders of the Wounded Warrior Regiment, retired after 22 years of dedicated service on June 26 in a ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps here.
Maxwell deployed six times and on his final deployment, in Iraq, he suffered a severe traumatic brain injury during an Oct. 7, 2004, mortar attack on the forward operating base where he was stationed. Shrapnel tore though the left side of his brain.
While recuperating, Maxwell discovered that his recovery was made easier when he was around other wounded warriors. He began advocating for wounded warriors and their families and worked diligently to establish the Wounded Warrior Barracks.
After all he has accomplished, Maxwell feels its time to step down.
"I’ve decided its time to go because a year ago I went for surgery to pull out piece of shrapnel near my brain stem,” Maxwell said. "It crippled me on my right side. Now I can’t represent the Marine Corps like I should. Marines are known for looking good in their uniform and when I can’t look good in my camies, it’s time to go."
Marine Corps Assistant Commandant Gen. John F. Amos approved the idea and others developed it, "but it was Lietenant Colonel Maxwell who planted the seed for the Wounded Warrior Regiment," said Lt. Col. David J. Lofgren, executive officer of the Wounded Warrior Regiment. "He got the wounded warriors together so they can heal together. The worst thing for a wounded warrior is the isolation. You feel like you’re sandbagging it when the rest of your unit is out there fighting."
At the Wounded Warrior Barracks leaders are able see the problems of recovering wounded and help prevent them from happening again, Lofgren said.
"There are 10,000 plus people who can attest to how the [Wounded Warrior] Regiment has affected them positively," said Master Sgt. Kenneth R. Barnes, staff NCO for the regiment. Barnes called Maxwell “the biggest hero of my life … It amazes me the way he has fought and persevered and still coming up with great ideas."
Lofgren said Maxwell has achieved icon status because his wounds are visible and people know him and know what he’s accomplished on behalf of wounded warriors. "He’s a real person to relate to. He’s a walking miracle," Lofgren said.
Even in retirement, however, Maxwell does not feel his job is complete. He has more goals for wounded warriors in all services.
"I want to expand it to the entire [Defense Department]," Maxwell said. "The solutions are out there. The problem is that wounded guys don’t know about it. I have to spread the word." Marine Pfc. Jahn R. Kuiper serves with Marine Corps Base Quantico public affairs).