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05-09-09, 01:43 PM
Wounded Warriors break ground on new barracks
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May 8, 2009 - 6:48 PM

Marines and sailors broke ground Friday on a place where wounded warriors will be able to heal, mentally and physically.

The new Wounded Warriors barracks, which is scheduled to take about 18 months to build, will include 100 two-man rooms, living area and kitchenette, fitness, physical therapy and counseling space.

The rooms are designed to accommodate two wheelchair-bound Marines without collisions, said Lt. Col. Thomas Siebenthal, commander of Wounded Warriors Battalion-East.

Camp Lejeune's wounded warriors are currently housed in a 1940s-era building across base from the Naval Hospital. The new facility is just steps away from the hospital.

"It's convenient," said Cpl. Bobby Joseph, a Marine who was injured by a roadside bomb while on foot patrol in Iraq in November 2006. "It is a pain in the butt to get transportation (from the current location to the hospital)."

The barracks is definitely needed, Joseph said.

"This is the best idea I've ever seen," he said. "It's the best thing they've done."

The concept for the wounded warriors barracks came about after Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell and then-Gunnery Sgt. Ken Barnes were wounded in Iraq in 2004. The two, who were both with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, realized as they were recovering that part of the healing process involved interacting with and bonding with other injured Marines.

"How do you get that shared experience when you're all by yourself?" Gen. James Amos, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps said, explaining the concept behind the barracks.

Amos previously served as commander of II Marine Expeditionary Force, and created the Wounded Warrior Support Section in 2005 in a renovated barracks at Camp Lejeune.

"This is probably the greatest day I've had all year long," Amos said Friday. "It's not the culmination, it's just the beginning."

Col. Gregory Boyle, commander of the Wounded Warriors Regiment, said the barracks and other facilities being built on the site - including a Warrior Hope and Care Center and a Fisher House for families of the wounded - will help the Marines "get back to that ‘new normal.'"

"These Marines made a commitment to our country. We owe a commitment to them," he said.

Contact interactive content editor and military reporter Jennifer Hlad at jhlad@freedomenc.com or 910-219-8467.


05-09-09, 01:47 PM
Asst. Commandant of the Marines attends Camp Lejeune wounded warrior barracks groundbreaking

By KEVIN MAURER , Associated Press

Last update: May 8, 2009 - 2:39 PM

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Marine officers at Camp Lejeune broke ground Friday on the first of four new barracks for wounded Marines that will be built in a $25 million project at the base's Wounded Warrior Complex.

The facility will be built near Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune and feature 100 two-man rooms with a living area and kitchenette, fitness and physical therapy rooms and private counselor rooms. The wounded Marines currently live in 1940s-era barracks that need regular upkeep.

The new barracks are meant to provide wounded Marines a "place to not only rehabilitate but also adjust to life in a compassionate environment," officials said. Base officials said the barracks will be complete in December 2010.

"This is the best idea I've ever seen. It is the best thing they've done," said Cpl. Bobby Joseph, who was wounded when a roadside bomb went off and peppered his legs with shrapnel in Iraq in 2006.

Joseph, 27, from Naples, Fla. now suffers from severe nerve damage among other combat-related injuries.

Now assigned to the Wounded Warrior Battalion, he said the barracks currently used are across the base from the hospital, making it hard for wounded Marines to get back and forth to doctor appointments. The new location is next to the hospital.

Gen. James F. Amos, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, presided over the groundbreaking ceremony. He said building a sense of community among wounded Marines and providing a place to share common experiences helps the healing process.

Amos was instrumental in starting the barracks program in 2005 when he created the Wounded Warrior Support Section, a renovated barracks at Camp Lejeune. At the time, he commanded the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Lejeune.

In previous wars, most of those severely wounded in combat would have left the military. But leaps in medical technology mean more military members are surviving and returning to service.

"There will be plenty of opportunity to fill it (the barracks) and use it, unfortunately" Amos said. "We are committed to taking care of our Marines. Today is just the beginning."

The barracks is a first step in a larger Wounded Warrior Complex that will contain the $25 million Warrior Hope rehabilitation center, a headquarters for the Wound Warrior battalion and a Fisher House. The whole complex is scheduled to be completed by September 2011.