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A Defense Department inspector general report found gaps in the care, treatment and transition programs for wounded Marines — plus poor morale fueled by idled hands, long waits for medical review boards, mixed messages about using and abusing medications and illegal drugs, and the sense their units had forgotten them. Worse, investigators found, wounded warriors complained they were put on public display, much like in a petting zoo, when charities visited and wanted the “visibly wounded” for their events.
• “The battalion is full of a lot of noncombat guys. It was originally set up as a wounded warrior battalion, but that is misleading because so many guys aren’t ‘wounded warriors.’”
• “The Wounded Warrior Battalion used to be a prestigious unit, but now it is a dumping ground. ... The real combat wounded will not come to the Wounded Warrior Battalion because of its stigma.”
• “I feel as though I have been lumped in with the guys that are here as malingerers and are taking up the resources being provided for those with legitimate injuries like mine.”
• “Confidentiality of personal information is an issue.”
• “The Marine Corps hammers drug users in other units, and there should be no difference here. I am not talking about a guy that gets hooked on his medications. Instead, I am talking about the illegal drug user who uses his own wounds to hide his habits.”
• “Once you get in trouble [for illegal drugs], you can never get away from the stigma.”
• “While they stick up for the drug addicts, they will nail you to the wall for missing an appointment or formation or for sleeping in and missing something because you are on sleep meds. It’s backwards.”
• “Many folks here miss the point. I need to know what is wrong with me before they tell me to get a ... résumé! The rules of engagement here are like the battlefield in Afghanistan. They don’t know what they are doing, so they deal with everyone like we are ‘boots’ and expect everything to work out in the end. It is terrible.”
• “Right now I am lost and confused. I do not know what the future holds, and I need someone to help me sort all of this stuff out.”
• “I cannot get promoted … until I leave the Wounded Warrior [Battalion]. It seems to me that there should be a provision for guys wounded in combat to be seen by the boards and not penalized for having a recovery time.”
• “At least if I had a goal like being able to pick up rank, I’d have something to push for while I’m here. ... I’m still a Marine and did not come here to give up.”