Injured Marines find a home aboard Camp Lejeune

15 Nov 2005 | Sgt. Tracee L. Jackson

The II Marine Expeditionary Force opened a barracks Nov. 15,which has been renovated to support Marines recuperating from war injuries. The Injured Support Unit barracks is a relatively low-cost renovation on an existing barracks, where 14 first-floor rooms were made accessible with ramps and grab bars and two rooms made wheelchair accessible.

This is the first renovation of its kind in the Marine Corps, though similar projects are in the early planning stages at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.

When a Marine is injured in combat, it can be a long road to recovery, according to Maj. Daniel L. Hooker, officer in charge of the II MEF injured support section. Some stay in hospitals or take convalescent leave while they nurse their wounds.

Gunnery Sgt. Kenneth Barnes, the senior enlisted Marine overseeing the barracks operation, explained the facility is named after Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell, who overcame severe head injuries after getting caught in a mortar attack last year.

Maxwell Hall exists for Marines who have reached an intermittent stage of healing where they aren’t in a hospital bed every day, yet still have frequent appointments for treatment and physical therapy.  The Marines have a duty driver on stand-by to take them to medical appointments and run errands, giving them all the resources they need to focus on getting back to full speed.

Facilitating Marines isn’t the only benefit of the new barracks. The building brings together Marines who have had similar experiences in a place where they can share their challenges and victories with others who know what they’re going through.

"Being injured is the first time a Marine may feel like he’s alone,” said Barnes.  “Here, wen you look left and look right, you know there's somebody on both sides who knows exactly what you've been through.”

The length of a Marine’s stay at the facility will depend on how long it takes to recuperate and take care of administrative issues. 

With the establishment of the ISU barracks, injured Marines on the road to recovery have a safe and supportive place to kick back and recharge before returning to full duty.