Mr. KLINE of Minnesota. Mr. Chairman, this amendment addresses the situation that we are facing on the ground overseas and at home. The United States Marine Corps is suffering a little over 30 percent of the combat casualties. My amendment makes sure that they and their program, in support of this very important bill, gets 20 percent of the money allocated in the fund established in this bill.
Mr. Chairman, on October 7, 2004, Marine Lieutenant Colonel Tim Maxwell's life changed forever. While on his third tour in Iraq, an enemy mortar attack left him with a battered body and severe brain trauma. But Colonel Maxwell is a marine, and despite the frustration of relearning how to walk and read, he has refused to give in to his wounds. In an open letter posted on his Web site, Colonel Maxwell talks about what it is like to be a wounded warrior:
``We tend not to complain about our injuries too much. Most of us know others who are worse off--a guy with a bad leg knows a guy who lost a leg, or both legs. I, with a brain that is `cracked,' know youngsters with brain injuries who are unable to walk or talk. We all know some who died. So it is not a good thing to complain. We are tough guys. We are all going to whip it.''
Having experienced loneliness, frustration, and depression during his recovery, Tim Maxwell set out to ensure that fellow wounded marines would have a place to recover with others like them. He said: ``When you're in the hospital, your morale is okay. You are with other wounded warriors. You can chat about it. Sometimes we just look at each other in the hallway and nod. That's all. Acknowledgment. But once you are out of the hospital, it's tough. It sounds great on the day you leave. But there's
In May, 2005, Colonel Maxwell came across a 20-year-old wounded marine sitting alone inside a Camp Lejeune barracks. The young man couldn't use his arm and was lonely and lost, having seen his buddy killed in combat and with his family living far away in Florida. Colonel Maxwell decided that ``no marine was going to be left alone like that.''
So along with Gunnery Sergeant Ken Barnes, he convinced the Marine Corps leadership that wounded marines needed their own barracks to help them heal among other wounded warriors. The Marine Corps leadership agreed, and in September 2005, Camp Lejeune opened the first barracks for wounded marines. The following month the barracks was dedicated to the man whose vision led to today's Wounded Warrior Battalion: Lieutenant Colonel Tim Maxwell.
Maxwell Hall at Camp Lejeune now houses 80 marines and provides them with the support structure necessary to heal. A similar barracks has also been established at Camp Pendleton, California, to care for west coast marines. The program has been so successful [Page: H3226]
that the concept was formalized by establishing the Wounded Warrior Battalions at Lejeune and Pendleton.
Simply put, Colonel Maxwell's vision of Wounded Warrior Battalions seeks to ensure that marines don't fall through the cracks that were so evident at Walter Reed. This amendment will help ensure this unique program succeeds and acts as a model for other services by assisting the Marine Corps transition this successful program from independent battalions on each coast into a single regiment with a headquarters located at Quantico.
The regiment's 54 staff members will help oversee the battalions at Pendleton and Lejeune, track active duty and discharged wounded marines through their recovery, and connect them with resources at the VA, other government agencies, and through private organizations. The battalions will continue to handle the day-to-day tasks of ensuring that marines are scheduled for medical appointments, that they are transported to those appointments, and that they receive counseling support to help heal
their mental scars.
Earlier this week, I spoke with the newly appointed Wounded Warrior Regimental commander, Colonel Gregory Boyle. After the conversation I was even more convinced that the Wounded Warrior Regiment is the model for how to treat our wounded servicemembers. Colonel Boyle is motivated and ready to go forward. He came from infantry regimental command. Passage of this amendment will ensure he is able to do so.
I appreciate the opportunity to bring this amendment to the floor, and I very much appreciate the support of Chairman Skelton and Ranking Member Hunter.
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Chairman, I wanted to thank the gentleman for yielding. And, you know, the Marine motto is ``Always Faithful,'' and once again, the gentleman, who is a great former marine, is being always faithful, not just to the men and women of his service, the Marine Corps, but those of all services who have been wounded in the war against terror. I want to thank the gentleman. I support this amendment very strongly.
Mr. SKELTON. We discussed this issue and this proposed amendment in the committee. At that time, we said we would work with you, and I compliment you on it. I support it. I think it is an excellent amendment and I wish to move forward and vote for it.