The Marine veterans, marked with scars of the war, but morale still high, were playing pingpong, cracking jokes and watching TV when the head Chaplain of the Corps arrived.
The Chaplain of the Marine Corps, Rear Adm. Alan T. Baker, visited the Wounded Warriors’ Barracks at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay during his trip to Oahu July 27.
The Wounded Warriors’ barracks is a place where injured Marines while in Iraq or Afghanistan stay during rehabilitation.
He gave words of encouragement, stressing the fact the chaplains of the Corps are in place to serve them.
“The Marine Corps takes care of your physical and mental side, but we’re in charge of the spiritual side,” said Baker. “Whether you’re religious or not, we’re here for you and your families.”
Baker also emphasized the importance of hearing from the troops.
“We want to take care of you,” said Baker. “That’s why your feedback is essential.”
After Baker fielded questions from the Marines, he gave each Wounded Warrior one of his personal coins.
“It makes you feel appreciated when somebody like Chaplain Baker takes the time to say ‘thank you for your service,’” said Lance Cpl. Jorge Bravo, a rifleman from Echo Co. 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment who was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device while in Iraq. “It shows he really cares about the Marines.”
The facilities are another way the Marine Corps is able to take care of their own and make them feel appreciated.
Some of the rooms are being renovated for wheelchair access, and the common rooms are decked out with the latest video games, flat-screen TVs, a pingpong table and a pool table.
Baker mentioned that the Wounded Warriors’ barracks throughout Marine Corps bases and installations will continue to be improved.
Many of the wounded Marines are taking their rehabilitation time at the barracks as an opportunity to train in other occupational fields in the Marine Corps because their injuries will prevent them from returning to the infantry.
“They still want to be productive,” said Cpl. Aaron Quiroz, the barracks enlisted quarters manager. “In between their medical appointments, they are taking college classes or working in other capacities on base.”
Some of the Marines are awaiting a medical discharge once their treatment is concluded.
“After I was shot twice in the stomach I had to get my spleen and one of my kidneys removed, so I can’t stay in,” said Lance Cpl. Alex Doyle, a German Town, Md. native and rifleman formerly with Fox Co., 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. “I don’t want to waste all my time left in the Marine Corps just with rehab, so now I’m helping with administrative work.”
The chaplain’s visit was uplifting for these Marines, and it was also an opportunity to show chaplains care and want to help in the spiritual realm.
“I want you to ask us the hard questions about what you’re dealing with,” said Baker. “We want to surpass your expectations.”