The image that comes to mind when I think of a Marine is the recruiting campaign "The Few, The Proud, The Marines," where you see a Marine in full dress uniform and standing at attention bring a sword up to his side. The Marines in the recruiting poster look serious, ready for battle.
Tonight, Campbell Brown will introduce you to a different side of the Marines.
At Bethesda's National Naval Medical Center, the job falls to the 22-member-strong liaison unit, a group sometimes called the softer side of the Marines, who take care of the every need of wounded Marines, but their families as well. They compare themselves to a concierge service at a five-star hotel, but they are much more than that. When notified of the arrival of a new patient, they go to work, making plane reservations, picking up family at the airport, even checking them into a hotel so they don't need to stop at the front desk and getting family settled before their loved one arrives at Bethesda. Many in the unit are the first uniformed service member to greet the family and subsequently deal with the raw emotion that a loved one has been hurt. They take it in stride however, learning that compassion is what they need and sometimes just someone to listen. Many family members come to completely rely on them for every need.
It's not just the family they take care of, but also all of the non-medical needs of patients, from organizing the thousands of donated paperbacks and videos to explaining the medical benefits and pay issues of the hospitalized. More importantly, they become a shoulder to lean on for an injured Marine; someone who gets what it's like to be a Marine, far away from unit and friends.
The unit's commander, Lt. Col. John Worman told me he tells the injured Marines and their families when they arrive that "When you leave here, you will miss us and if you don't miss us then we haven't done our job."
Every Marine and every family member we talked to told us they are touched by this unit's hard work, whether it be something as easy as bringing up a new T-shirt or DVD, or something as difficult as helping them cope with the major changes they or their loved ones are going through.
The injured Marines we met all could have come off that recruiting poster, many with injuries from improvised explosive devices that will take years to recover from, but all the while proud to be one of the few.