3/3 RVN Ass’n  Vol  1  Issue 8    01/01/2007
Page 4-5
"Doc" Roe, 38, of Akron, Ohio, "and come back and feel like you're lost."
Long road to recovery
Col. Maxwell, who is back to light duty as the officer in charge of the barracks, is still recovering from brain damage he suffered in the Oct. 7, 2004, mortar attack.
He ordered the wounded Marines to stand tall and proud during a weekend trip to the U.S. Naval Academy.
"Wounded guys are still in the Marine Corps – we're not going to look like a bunch of bums," he said. "You're speaking on behalf of those devil dogs still in Iraq.
"You ain't no [expletive] privates anymore. You've been through life."
Col. Maxwell could barely speak after the mortar attack. A year and a half later, the former Texas A&M cadet, who graduated from Newman Smith High School in Carrollton, still forgets some common words.
"What's the name of that fort in Texas?" he asked.
The Alamo? "Yeah, that's it."
The guy who used to work 12-hour days or longer fatigues easily now. One foot flops as he walks, and an angry scar curves like a question mark around his skull.
A series of seizures in December set him back. But Col. Maxwell applied the same energy and discipline he utilized as a triathlete and marathon runner for his own recovery, said his father, Bill Maxwell of Garland.
And, Mr. Maxwell said, his son developed a level of empathy that his previous Marine Corps experience hadn't trained him for.
"Now that he's gone down that path," his father said, "he sees that people have psychological injuries as well as physical ones."
'The wounded live on"
The young Marines were chatting about the usual things – hot women, fat enlistment bonuses, the ups and downs of mandatory pill popping – when Maj. Gen. Richard A. Huck, commander of the 2nd Marine Division, stopped by the barracks.
More than 265 Marines from their division have been killed in action, he noted.
"We have to constantly remind them that all of this comes at a cost," he said. "Keep your heads up. That's a big part of the healing. ... And get on with it."
"They don't have a choice, sir," Gunny Barnes interjected. "If they look down, all they'll see is my boot. ... "
"Well, give them a bigger boot," the general said.
Lance Cpl. Armand "A.J." Anderson, 23, of St. Augustine, Fla., worked his way from a wheelchair to crutches to a cane. He won't be satisfied until he's back in the infantry – preferably in time to re-enlist in January.
"There's family heritage. My mom, my dad, my grandfathers," all were in the military, he said, displaying nine stars tattooed around his arm in their honor.
About half of the severely wounded in the Marine Corps stay in the service, said Lt. Gen. James F. Amos, the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force commanding general.
In the past, many of them wouldn't have had that option. The commandant of the Marine Corps announced two years ago that the injured who could do a job would no longer be pushed out.
"We want the decision to be theirs," Gen. Amos said. "The wounded live on. I want them to know that we care."
At first, he thought the best place for unmarried wounded Marines was at home with their relatives or under the care of the commanders who took them to war.

But when he toured Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and other hospitals, every last Marine told him they needed their own barracks.
Cpl. Jeremy Fountain, 23, of Homedale, Idaho, was thrown across the road by a bomb explosion that left 150 holes in his legs.
When his unit returned from Iraq, Cpl. Fountain came out on crutches, excited to see his buddies. There were hugs all around, but as time went by, he began to feel like an outsider living among them.
"They're all training, getting ready to go back. You're sitting in the barracks by yourself," he said.
Lance Cpl. John Williams, 20, of Toledo, Ohio, was blinded in one eye by a bomb that branded his thigh with a scar in the shape of the Playboy bunny.   He spent several weeks in his old barracks at Camp Lejeune before the rest of his unit returned from Iraq.
"I was pretty depressed. There was no one to talk to," he said. "Here they gave me something to do, a reason to get out of bed every day. People could relate to me."
One of the barracks' newest residents, Lance Cpl. Zachary O'Grady, 22, of Walpole, Mass., was hobbling slowly down the hall, leaning on a cane, when Col. Maxwell called to him from his office.
Cpl. O'Grady was hit by a car bomb in September and spent seven months in hospitals, three of them in a coma.
Several guys from his unit were already here when the machine gunner arrived. They're all looking out for him, making sure he gets out of his room and eats something besides Pop-Tarts.
"Hey, I want to give your parents a jangle. I'm sure they've got a lot of questions," Col. Maxwell said.
"That would help my mom out a lot, sir," Cpl. O'Grady said.
Uncertain future
Helping other Marines has helped Col. Maxwell heal, he said. But like many residents of the wounded-warrior barracks, he doesn't know what comes next – whether he'll stay in the corps or start over as a civilian back in Dallas.
Mr. Maxwell said he hopes his son will stay in the Marines until his 20-year retirement.
Before the Iraq invasion, Mr. Maxwell drove a bus to Washington, D.C., with other war protesters. But he is intensely proud of his son, whom he used to call a "poster boy" for the Marines.
He still is proud.
Whether the battle is in Iraq or a hospital bed, "he's a fighter," Mr. Maxwell said.
Col. Maxwell chafes at the limitations his wounds have imposed. But Marines don't whine, he said.
"I'm not complaining. I'm lucky to have made it this far."


§4.16  Total disability ratings for compensation based on unem-ployability of the  individual.
(a) Total disability ratings for compensation may be assigned, where the schedular rating is less than total, when the disabled person is, in the judgment of the rating agency, unable to secure or follow a substantially gainful occupation as a result of service-connected disabilities:

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