Story by Cpl. Katherine Keleher
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Service members observed the opening of the base’s new Wounded Warrior berthing area and Combined Aid Station, here, June 16 with Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan, commanding general of Regional Command Southwest, as the ribbon-cutting ceremony’s guest of honor.
After more than three months of building, the more than 23,000-square-foot facility is now open for patient care.
“Today we commemorated the history between Navy medicine and the United States Marine Corps by renewing our commitment to taking care of our Marines and sailors the best we can,” said Lt. Kevin Elwell, the Task Force Belleau Wood medical officer in charge of the CAS.
Compared to the prior Wounded Warrior berthing area, which was held in tents, the new building provides wounded servicemen and women with a more feel-at-home type of living situation.
“When it comes to the old Wounded Warrior area, this one is by far a better setting,” explained Petty Officer 3rd Class Terrell Camp, a corpsman with Task Force Belleau Wood, and a native of Fort Meade, Fla. “There’s more space available for the guys to move around and feel comfortable. With these guys being in a wounded status, I feel it’s very important to provide top of the line services.
“The ultimate goal of the Wounded Warrior facility is to provide comfortable, temporary lodging to help rehabilitate these heroes and get them back out to their units where they belong,” he added.
Navy medicine traditionally takes care of sailors and Marines, though the CAS aboard Camp Leatherneck is responsible for providing medical care to everyone on the installation.
“Being a consolidated, or combined aid station, we’re also in charge of taking care of all the service members, and even civilians, aboard Camp Leatherneck,” added Elwell, of Williamsport, Pa. “So, this also renews our commitment to the soldiers, sailors and airmen that are also aboard Camp Leatherneck.”
The new medical facility has been built to serve as a permanent fixture for coalition services and offers a broader array of capabilities than the previous CAS.
“The old combined aid station was located in tents, it ran off generator power, it had very limited and small exam spaces that weren’t well separated, so the patients that came through didn’t have a very good sense of privacy,” Elwell explained.
The new facility expands the staff’s ability to care for patients by giving them more rooms for patient privacy and a two bed trauma bay.
Though the new facilities have only been open for a short period of time, those who have gone through are already grateful.
“I’m very appreciative of this place,” said Cpl. John Weese, from Moorefield, W. Va., a scout sniper with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, and a current member of the Wounded Warrior program.
“It’s a lot nicer over here compared to the old place with tents,” he added. “It gives the guys here a better place to rest up and heal so they can get back out in the fight.”