New Regiment Focuses on Wounded Marines, Sailors
By Carmen L. Gleason
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 4, 2007 The U.S. Marine Corps has created a new regiment focused on tracking and assisting wounded Marines and sailors across the nation, the regiment’s first commander announced at a Pentagon news conference today.
“The mission of the Wounded Warrior Regiment is to provide and facilitate assistance to wounded, ill and injured Marines, sailors and their families throughout the phases of their recovery,” said Marine Col. Gregory Boyle.
The Marine Corps has taken care of its own since 1775, Boyle said, and the way the Corps does it is through “caring and concerned leadership – from the commandant down to the individual Marine.”
Although taking care of their fellow Marines isn’t a new concept, Boyle said, the establishment of the regiment marks the first time the Marine Corps has given oversight in tracking wounded troops to one command.
He said a single data base and tracking system will help streamline the transition process and help Marines cut through red tape.
The Wounded Warrior Regiment plans to support troops as they navigate through medical evaluation boards and assist in the processing of traumatic life insurance claims, Boyle said. Regiment leaders will provide information on charitable organizations to family members and will ensure accountability in the management of non-medical phases of transition.
Boyle also said the regiment will ensure the continuation of care without discrimination to the type of illness, whether it is physical or behavioral.
Leaders within the command will strive to make the transition seamless for wounded sailors and Marines as they go from Defense Department care to that of the Veterans Affairs Department.
Former Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Michael W. Hagee established similar assistance under the “Marine for Life” program in 2005. Injured Marines and sailors used the nationwide network as a means to transition back to civilian life in their hometowns.
More emphasis was put on the existing program when current Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway made it one of his top priorities March 23 to establish a regiment with battalion headquarters on both the East and West coasts.
The regiment, with headquarters in Quantico, Va., is spending $53 million in new construction for its two battalions -- one on Camp Lejeune, N.C., and one on Camp Pendleton, Calif. Each battalion will have a barracks facility to house outpatient Marines who are recovering before returning to their units or who are transitioning out of the military to civilian life.
The two locations will help eliminate possible seams and cracks for Marines to fall through, Boyle said. Marines will receive the same level of support regardless of their location.
Efforts will first focus on the 370 Marines who are currently on inpatient and outpatient status at military medical centers across the country. After addressing these cases, Boyle said, he plans to widen his efforts.
“My vision is to get in touch with Marines from (Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom) efforts as far back as 2001 on a monthly basis,” the colonel said. “The new organization will allow us to give a personal touch to former Marines.”