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2nd Lt. John Bobrousiecki, patient, Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders Center of Excellence, pulls weights during his kinesiotherapy session at the Hunter Holmes VA Medical Center on June 30, 2013. Bobrousiecki also receives therapeutic services in activities for daily living.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Tabitha Bartley

Liaison’s give back to service members

2 Jul 2013 | Lance Cpl. Tabitha Bartley Marine Corps Base Quantico

Marines, sailors and soldiers currently staying at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA medical Center in Richmond, for different, and sometimes multiple, injuries have one purpose in mind: physical and mental rehabilitation.

The care of these service members doesn’t just fall onto one individual but an entire team of nurses, doctors, speech and physical therapist, mental health experts and military liaisons.

“Even if their injuries don’t come from combat,” said Heidi Bassani, speech language therapist, Polytrauma Unit, Hunter Holmes McGuire VA medical Center, “they handle their injuries differently than most civilians. That’s why it’s important for the liaisons to know what’s going on with their health and to have them involved”

The military liaisons aren’t just the gap between the medical personnel and the military. They are also the ones directly helping the families of the victims and ensure they benefit from all available resources.

“Many families relocate to be close to their loved one,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class William Lassiter, Army Liaison, Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center. “I help make sure they are able to get to the hospital and all the family’s needs are met while they are in the area.”

The liaison’s first responsibility is to his fellow service member. Liaisons are charged with making sure the service member adheres to all standards they are mentally and physically able to, they are taken care of, and get them either back on active duty or back into society.

“We enforce our standards with compassion,” said Lassiter. “We really have to approach things from a different way than we would while out in the fleet.”

Patients aren’t just stuck within the hospital walls; military liaisons take patients to sporting, holiday and other events going on in the community.

“We don’t just spend a few hours a day with them,” said Staff Sgt. Royneka Hood, Marine Liaison, Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center. “We are here on weekdays, weekends, nights … whenever they need us.

“We [liaisons] are their constant reminder that the Marine Corps are still there for them and are going to continue to take care of them,” she said.

Hood helps to put the structure back in the life of the service members.

“Yes, they are injured,” said Hood. “But they are still Marines; they still want to be held to a standard. Being a Marine is about more than just doing what you’re told. As a Marine, you are a part of that family and you will always be. We are what helps remind them, gives them hope and lets them know their family is still here for them.”

Their work as liaisons doesn’t go unrecognized by those they are helping.

“The liaisons have treated not only me but my family like family,” said Sgt. David Rupper, patient, Polytrauma Unit. “They have assisted transitioning my family here and making sure I am taken care of.”

Hood whose primary military occupation is in administration, said she wouldn’t trade being a liaison for anything.

“I feel like this is my way of giving back,” said Hood. “My goal each time I go into a room is to make them smile; if I can do that, then I’ve done my job.”

Marine Corps Base Quantico