As the report notes, however, some Americans are even willing to take advantage of those who have sacrificed and suffered in the name of defending the homeland. The culprits range from illegal-drug dealers to some so-called charitable groups that, as the report politely put it, “sometimes do not have the best interests of Warriors at heart.” The report mentioned that a few unnamed agencies “had expressed disappointment that TBI [traumatic brain injury] patients did not ‘look the part.’ ”
Many times, “visiting non-military organizations wanted to see a ‘poster child’ of a wounded Marine and they would offer donations for the selected personnel and not the unit as a whole,” the battalion chaplain told the inspector general.
Some organizations would call in “looking for ‘visibly wounded’ Marines (burn victims, amputees) to participate in their events.” Some Marines complained to the inspector general about “the ‘petting zoo’ environment created when certain non-profit agencies came to visit.”
The worst offenders simply had to be kept out of the barracks, according to the report. The Lejeune unit had to institute a screening process to guard against the exploitation of wounded Marines.
The Marine Wounded Warrior program began in April 2007, after the neglect scandal at what was then the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The program was meant to coordinate medical and non-medical care for ailing and injured Marines, combat-wounded or not, and their families. The goal was to help get the service personnel back to active duty or help them make the transition to civilian life.
With a regimental headquarters set up at Quantico, two Marine
Wounded Warrior Battalions were established, one at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and the other at Camp Pendleton in California. Overall, the program has aided some 27,377 Marines.
At the time of the inspector general’s visit in September 2010, there were 194 Marines in the Camp Lejeune Wounded Warrior Battalion, many suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), TBI or spinal cord injuries. Of the group, 130 were wounded in the theater of operations. Serious problems, such as TBI and PTSD, were handled at the Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune and through the Tricare network locally.
A support team was established for each wounded Marine. The team included a noncommissioned officer as a section leader, a civilian medical case manager, a military or civilian primary-care manager, and a civilian recovery care coordinator who acted as the primary point of contact.
Overall, the inspector general found that the management and staff at the battalion and Naval Hospital at Camp Lejeune “were fully dedicated to providing the best available care and services.”