It was a day of honor and celebration at Camp Pendleton, as a new facility to help injured military personnel officially opened its doors Thursday.
The Wounded Warrior Barracks is a two-story, 66,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility that will accommodate 200 injured or ill Marines and sailors.
"Our mission is to assist our men and women to either get back onto active duty or into civilian life," said Lt. Col. Gregory R. Martin, commanding officer of the Wounded Warrior Battalion West, to roughly 200 people at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Inside the $24.56 million project are 100 rooms, each containing two beds with matching iPod alarm clocks, a refrigerator, sink area, cabinets, a large HDTV, dresser, cabinets and a bathroom with shower.
"It’s a two-man room and we like to do that so you have a buddy," said Capt. Joseph A. Campbell, officer in charge of construction at Marine Corps Installation West. "If you are combat wounded and you have been in the combat zone then you need to have somebody with you … to talk to."
The building also has a kitchen area, balcony and outdoor patio with picnic areas, a basketball court and other gathering areas.
"Once again community and talking and being in a group setting is good for people as they recover from war injuries," said Campbell, who added that a facility of this size is a first on the West Coast.
The barracks was designed and constructed in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and is located near Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton and Lake O’Neil with several running and walking trails.
The Wounded Warrior Barracks was built to LEED Gold standards, with energy- and water-efficient details like drought tolerant landscape.
Also, many of the cabinets and concrete materials came from recycled goods.
"The Marine Corps philosophy is doing more with less," said Maj. Gary R. Zegley, executive officer for the Wounded Warrior Battalion West.
"As Marines, we generally squeeze the 'more' out of every resource that we possibly can … So what this building represents to us is our commitment to those Marines who are wounded, ill and injured."
One Marine who will have a room at this new facility will be Sgt. Kurtis Foster, who has received the military’s Purple Heart three times.
He said he appreciates a facility like this and all the hard work the architect and contractors put into it because they thought of the soldiers' needs first, so they can get back to full strength.
Barnhart Balfour Beatty was the outside design-build firm hired to lead this project, while Cass Sowatsky Chapman & Associates was the architectural firm that designed it.
There were 19 subcontracting companies on this project and at the peak of construction there were roughly 100 workers at the facility, which took a year to complete.
This barrack is the first part of what the U.S. Marine Corps calls the Wounded Warriors Campus.
During the next year and a half, a Wounded Warriors Headquarters and Wounded Warriors Hope and Care Center will be built.
The headquarters will be a 9,354-square-foot facility with administrative space and a multi-purpose area.
The Hope and Care Center will be a 30,995-square-foot complex with an indoor therapy pool, an outdoor lap pool, climbing wall and a one-eighth mile running track.
It will also have space for counseling, employment support, financial management and other training and outreach programs.
Both are also being designed and built by Cass Sowatsky Chapman & Associates and Barnhart Balfour Beatty -- with a LEED Platinum standard -- and will have a price tag of approximately $29.5 million.
* Video: Wounded Warrior Barracks opens
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