Local News

New Bragg facilities care for wounded warriors

Posted February 23, 2011 7:24 p.m. EST

— Hundreds of soldiers at Fort Bragg are getting paid to get better.

They were seriously wounded or became sick on the battlefield. Now, their mission is to become healthy at one of the largest Wounded Warrior Battalions outside of Washington, D.C.

Sgt. Robert Maier said he would much rather lay his body down for a comrade than to be laid up fighting the enemy within his bones.

"I love the Army. I love being an infantryman," Maier said recently.

But love can hurt – Maier was wounded by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.

"It happens so fast (that) you don't know what happens," he said. "I got knocked out for two days, and when you wake up, you're not knowing who you are or where you're at."

Yet, he put his wounds aside. "I stayed there with my team and my company."

After his deployment ended, Maier transferred to Fort Bragg to jump out of planes, only to experience dizziness and blackouts – the fallout from the IED explosion.

"My vertigo was all messed up. I crashed pretty hard," he said.

The 41-year-old is now among more than 600 wounded soldiers in Fort Bragg's Warrior Transition Battalion.

"I just (want) to get better and get back out there with my team," he said.

Lt. Col. Tom Schumacher, who heads up the battalion, said sicknesses and injuries no longer necessarily mean a trip to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, the Army's marquee hospital.

"With some of the changes going on at Walter Reed, we get a lot of soldiers that come straight from theater to Fort Bragg," Schumacher said.

Treatments for traumatic brain injuries and programs for pain management are now available at Fort Bragg's Womack Army Medical Center.

A wounded warrior complex is under construction next to Womack to allow wounded soldiers to have their housing near the hospital. The barracks are set to be complete by March 2012.

When it's complete, it will be the only such complex in the nation outside of Walter Reed, and Schumacher said almost all of the needs of wounded warriors will be within its walls.