Mrs. Conway visits Wounded Warrior Barracks; meets Support Group and volunteers

29 Nov 2006 | Cpl. Rose A. Muth

Passionate about the welfare of Marines and their families, the Corps’ new first lady, Mrs. Annette Conway, visited the Wounded Warrior Barracks with her husband, the newly appointed 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James T. Conway.

Mrs. Conway met with Shannon Maxwell, director of the Wounded Warrior Spousal Support Group and wife of Lt. Col. Timothy A. Maxwell, founder of the Wounded Warrior Barracks. Maxwell recalled how she was told the news of her husband’s injury, and how she started the group to reach out to other wounded Marine wives as well.

“When I was first informed of my husband’s injury, I was contacted by his commanding officer. I was very lucky to get that call by him, but other wives are not so lucky,” Maxwell said. “This group was essentially started to let wives know there are other people out there like them who are going through the same hardships. We are starting to get more involved with the notification process to the spouses and the families. Once the initial contact is made, everything else falls into line, and we’re here to help them with anything they may need.”

Maxwell also gave Mrs. Conway an overall summary of the WWSSG, and how much dedication the volunteers have toward the program.

“We recognized that other spouses might need support of their own as they assist their family members to cope with physical and mental challenges caused by wounds of war,” Maxwell said. “We realized in helping our husbands through their recovery that there were challenges, uncertainties and stressors we were experiencing that were hard for others to understand. Our roles changed for a time as we became the caregiver at home. The volunteers here are wonderful women who work alongside me to get things done for these Marines and their families and to help get new programs started. I started with an idea. With their help, I put it into action.”

Conway also piggybacked on Maxwell’s comments and said, “the idea of (the Spousal Support Group) is amazing. It helps when someone has lived through the same situation as you and knows what you’re going through emotionally. It’s essentially taking care of the care takers.”

Along with the WWSSG, Maxwell stressed the importance of the Key Volunteer Network and their role in helping support the Marine Corps families.

“It is necessary for Key Volunteers to get involved with the different programs so they can inform spouses of all the help available to them in case a situation does occur,” Maxwell said. “The KV program has evolved over the years and the input they give us on family issues can help us address it and get more programs started Marine Corps-wide.”

Before touring the barracks with the Commandant and ending her visit with the Wounded Warriors, Conway expressed her gratitude toward the countless hours Maxwell and her volunteers spend helping pave the way on future programs for Marine Corps families.

“The dedication of these ladies in helping support our Wounded Warriors is amazing. It makes you wonder what we did before these programs were started,” Conway said. “Everything you do adequately as a team is far above what was being done before this program was started. There are a lot of caring individuals who care about the welfare of our Marines and their families. The key is to go out there and get involved. You ladies have a big headstart on making this program Marine Corps-wide, and I applaud you for that.”

Maxwell also expressed her appreciation for Conway’s visit to the barracks and the interest and support she has displayed toward the program.

“She is a tremendous and wonderful woman who will do nothing but help support this program and the volunteers who run it. We’re thankful she took time out of her busy schedule to come and sit with us and hear all of our future ideas,” Maxwell said. “It is very encouraging to know we have her support now and for the future families as well.”

For more information about the group, e-mail: wwssg@hotmail.com.