MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Following news that the Army is restructuring its Warrior Transition Command as its number of wounded, ill and injured service members decline, the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment has said its structure will remain in place, even if its numbers change.
So far, however, the numbers have remained about steady, said Capt. Ryan Powell, public affairs officer for the regiment, noting that off-duty mishaps tend to increase when forces aren’t deployed.
About half the approximately 1,000 Marines attached to the unit have noncombat-related injuries or illnesses, he said.
Powell said funding for the regiment hasn’t changed much either, despite increasing budget constraints across the Corps, as the commandant, Gen. James F. Amos, has declared it one of his priorities.
While the unit does scrutinize its temporary additional duty assignments a little differently, he said, “When it comes to the care of wounded warriors, there hasn’t really been an issue.”
However, he said if the regiment needs to alter its size, “Any adjustments that need to be made won’t require a restructuring.”
All the services try to keep their wounded warriors near their parent units during recovery, he said. However, whereas the Army and National Guard have locations all over the country, the bulk of Marine Corps units and personnel are stationed on and around Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., where the Wounded Warrior Regiment has its two battalions, with detachments in the surrounding regions.
Having a staff of active duty and reserve Marines, civilians and contractors also makes it easier for the regiment to expand or contract, or shift its personnel, Powell said, explaining that an active duty, permanent billet is tied to a location, while contractor, for example, is not.
“We have an extremely flexible structure when it comes to personnel,” he said.
Powell added that there will be a need for the Wounded Warrior Regiment to retain its basic structure into the future. While numbers of combat-injured Marines returning from the Middle East have been dropping for years, others continue to emerge with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries months or years after combat and often need support for extended periods.
“The structure needs to be in place for those invisible wounds that manifest over time,” he said, adding that the regiment is concerned with the long-term health and well-being of Marines whether or not they’re on active duty.
“Some of those individuals are going to need support for years to come,” Powell said.
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