Barbecue, competition enliven Wounded Warrior recuperation

Matt Quijas

CAMP PENDLETON, California–Marines and sailors stationed here are devoting this week to honoring service members injured in combat from all over the world; this is a great opportunity for them to showcase their new  facility for Wounded Warriors.

An international assemblage of Wounded Warriors gathered Feb.13 to kick off this year’s Marine Corps Trials for the Warrior Pentathlon.  The event is being hosted by the new Wounded Warrior Regiment located at Camp Pendleton, where a state-of-the-art facility for injured service members helps them transition into the next phase of their lives.

Competitors from allied forces included the French, British, Australian, Canadian, and, of course, American military.  The warriors gathered for a Valentine’s Day American barbecue, which was hosted by the USO, a nonprofit organization priding itself for its support of the U.S. Armed Forces.  Among the USO volunteers were members from the Little Italy Community, members of the Jewish community including former Anti-Defamation League regional director Morris Casuto, and former Marines.

The Marine Corps Trials had the Wounded Warriors competing for Pentathlon spots in  an international competition that will include Swimming, Cycling, Running, Shot Putting and Shooting.

Many high-ranking officers and enlisted service members came out to support the cause and week-long event.  The servicemen and women lined up for their evening chow; smiles and cheers flooded the area as they waited for their hamburgers, pulled pork sandwiches, hotdogs and potato salads.  To their surprise they were offered an unlimited supply of apple pie, cookies, and sweets.

The experience was unlike any other; everyone involved could feel the sincerity of thanks and compassion in the air.   Volunteers felt they couldn’t do enough in comparison to what these brave men and women have sacrificed; there was that common unspoken understanding.

The Wounded Warrior facility includes a full gym outfitted for nearly any exercise imaginable; there is an outdoor pool; an underwater treadmill for low impact therapy; an outdoor wall for rock climbing.

There is also a Mental Health clinic on the second floor to accommodate warriors with “invisible” wounds.  The goal was to put everything in one place that a Wounded Warrior may need from physical to psychological therapy.

These individuals are provided with a facility to help them transition through their hardships.

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Quijas, a student in Media Comm 132A, covers veterans and military affairs for the GC Summit.  He may be contacted at [email protected]