Tag Archives: Camp Pendleton

… and helps the mentally scarred

Navy psychiatrist Cmdr. Charles Benson

Cmdr. Charles Benson is helping oversee the psychological care of a Camp Pendleton unit that had more casualties than any other in the 10-year war in Afghanistan. Benson is pictured during his recent deployment to the Marine Corps' Camp Leatherneck in the Helmand province. (Courtesy photo)

Shortly after my previous post about honoring the fallen Marines and sailors at Camp Pendleton, I read this North County Times piece:

Nearly 100 troops from a Camp Pendleton battalion that suffered more casualties than any other in the 10-year-old war in Afghanistan are set to receive post-combat psychological help, according to a Navy psychiatrist.

The Navy is apparently working on being able to intervene sooner when there are signs of problems.

This all comes on the heels of a depressing report on the level of psychological stress suffered by our troops over the last 5 years. From USA Today:

U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan are experiencing some of the greatest psychological stress and lowest morale in five years of fighting, reports a military study.

“We’re an Army that’s in uncharted territory here,” says Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Army vice chief of staff, who has focused on combat stress. “We have never fought for this long with an all-volunteer force that’s 1% of the population.”

So many dead and so many wounded.

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Camp Pendleton honors the fallen

Camp Pendleton Marine Base held a ceremony Friday honoring 125 Marines and sailors who died in the last year serving in Afghanistan — as well as the 2000 who were injured. The sprawling base just south of San Clemente has experienced more than its share of loss over the years. For example, during the first half of the Iraq war, Marines from Pendleton had the greatest number of deaths and casualties of any U.S. fighting force.

Marines and sailors who lost their lives in Afghanistan are remembered at Camp Pendleton.

One hundred and twenty-five Marines and sailors killed in Afghanistan in the last year, and another 2,000 wounded, were honored at a ceremony Friday morning at Camp Pendleton. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Pendleton, had been in charge of all Marines in Afghanistan until that authority passed to those in charge at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

In the moving ceremony, as reported on the L.A. Now blog at the Los Angeles Times, the morning flag was raised, tributes were made, and the names of the last 8 Pendleton Marines killed in action were read. The latest casualty was Cpl. Ian Muller, 22, of Danville, Vt., killed on March 11.

During the ceremony, a bugler played taps and a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace.”

As an institution, one of the distinguishing features of the Marine Corps is its reverence for its history. Former Marines are invited to all ceremonies on this sprawling base: changes of command, memorials, award presentations, even ribbon-cuttings for a new barracks or water-treatment plant.

For example, at a change-of-command ceremony Thursday for the 1st Battalion, 4th Regiment, there were several rows of former Marines. A page in the program was devoted to the remembrance of a 1st Battalion, 4th Regiment Marine who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in Vietnam: Cpl. Larry L. Maxam.

Remembering our past — and always honoring those who make the ultimate sacrifice — is vital to finding a way to bring an end to war and to prevent such ceremonies from ever needing to take place again.

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