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July 30, 2005

Wounded Warriors Reaching Out

Not many newspaper articles move me to tears. But this line did.

Shannon Maxwell says her husband doesn't remember rolling his wheelchair through a ward at Bethesda Naval Hospital just days after brain surgery in January, searching for Marines. He does remember the first thing he told her after awakening: "I want to be with wounded Marines."

Her husband is Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell, one of the highest ranking members of the US military wounded in Iraq. He suffered his head wound and other injuries last October. He still struggles with memory issues and some physical problems. But the Marine officer refuses to let that stop him from doing something for his fellow Marines.

This spring, his solitary mission evolved into an informal effort approved by Marine brass. Maxwell has recruited several other injured Marines to help wounded comrades — most of them very young and far from home.

They tell them what to expect during surgery, therapy and recovery. They help them negotiate the military health system. They have heartfelt talks with wives and parents.

They also display graphic photos of their own wounds to show that even the most grievous injuries can heal. Mostly, they try to lift spirits during what is probably the most trying period in the lives of these soldiers.

"I want these families to know that their guys aren't forgotten," Maxwell said. "There are Marines here for them, right by their side."

Maxwell says the military will provide a small office and vehicles as he recruits more volunteers. A 10-bed living quarters for wounded Marines will open at the base on Aug. 8, he said.

This is incredible stuff -- most of us, faced with such injuries, would probably be more concerned about our own healing and own progress. This man is truly one of a band of brothers, and he wants to make sure that each one of his brothers knows he is not forgotten. Along the way, he has picked up a few fellow Marines to help out with this project.

Maxwell finds camaraderie in what he calls his "wounded warrior team." There's Staff Sgt. James Sturla, 26, a tank commander whose right hand was "de-gloved" — the skin, tissue and muscle ripped from the bone — during an attack in western Iraq in September. And there's Gunnery Sgt. Ken Barnes, 35, whose left arm was shattered by a roadside bomb in central Iraq in November.

If you read no other article I've linked to from my blog, I beg you to read this one. It will inspire you and move you. It might even bring a tear to your eye, too.

God bless you, L. Col. Maxwell, SSGT Sturla, and Gunnery Sgt. Barnes. You are truly the sort of men who make this country great -- and who make the Marine Corps what it is.

MORE COMMENTARY at Spartacus.





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I wish I could find a license plate frame that says, "Soldiers and verans always have the right of way."

Bartleby

|| Posted by Subjugator, July 30, 2005 08:16 AM ||
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