He started unit for wounded warriors He set up unit for wounded warriors
Jay Price, Staff Writer
Three years ago this week, Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell was discharged from the hospital, wondering how much he was going to recover from a major head injury he suffered when a mortar shell landed on his tent in Iraq.
Now Esquire magazine is honoring the Marine as one of the "Best and Brightest of 2007" in its December issue, which appears on newsstands today.
The accompanying article isn't just about Maxwell, who has become a legend at Camp Lejeune. It also offers a raw, R-rated glimpse of life inside the Wounded Warrior Barracks on the Marine base near Jacksonville.
Maxwell, 42, helped start the barracks after he was wounded. One day, after being released from the hospital and returning to Lejeune to recuperate, the former triathlete came upon a Marine who had been wounded and sent home. The young man was alone and crying.
That shouldn't happen, Maxwell said, and he and Master Sgt. Ken Barnes started lobbying Marine leaders for housing so the wounded Marines could live together while they recovered in a supportive environment.
After they got the barracks started at Lejeune -- it's called Maxwell Hall -- the concept spread to the West Coast, where the Marines at Camp Pendleton set up similar housing. Then this past spring, the Corps decided to start a nationwide wounded-warrior regiment, so that injured Marines would have a supportive unit around them. The idea even spread to the Army, which has begun its own wounded-troops unit.
Maxwell recently took an assignment as an adviser to the Wounded Warrior Regiment at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. Among other duties, he's the officer in charge of the regiment's new call center, which opens this week. The center will take calls from wounded Marines and try to find solutions to their problems, Maxwell said. It also will begin an effort to contact every Marine who has been injured since Sept. 11, 2001, in combat or otherwise, to see if he or she needs help of any kind.
The story in Esquire also includes Maxwell's wife, Shannon, who has dedicated much of her own life to helping wounded troops. She founded a support group at Lejeune for the spouses of wounded Marines and was a co-founder of Hope for the Warriors, a nonprofit organization that raises money for the wounded. Last week, she won an honor for her work from the National Military Family Association.
'I don't know why...'
The Esquire story also details the lives of the young Marines living in the barracks. Maxwell said that he could have done without the sexual references but that the attention would help his cause.
"I'll take credit from anybody to put the word out," said Maxwell, who still stumbles over his words sometimes. "There are still guys out there who don't know anything about this, and they're just sitting there alone.
"Reporters will call and want to do a Maxwell story because I'm the most well-known," he said. "We get 'em out to the barracks, and they cry when they leave. It really gets them."
Maxwell said he was a little bewildered that he had been picked by the magazine.
"Esquire had this dinner up in New York last week, and I don't know why I was a part of it," he said. "They had all these geniuses there, people who had invented important stuff.
"I just figured Marines ought to hang out together," he said. "That's not genius stuff."