By Aquita Brown , Wounded Warrior Regiment
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va., For Marine veteran Lance Cpl. Chase Savage, spending his Saturdays outdoors is the best prescription for healing. Savage spends his weekends participating in various hunting and fishing outings with his fellow wounded, ill and injured Marines through the Wounded Warrior Regiment’s outdoor recreation program.
Savage has always enjoyed hunting and fishing since growing up in rural Mississippi. He joined the Marine Corps in 2003 as an 0311, a rifleman in the infantry. His main reason for joining was due to the tragic events of 9/11.
“I was young,” said Savage. “I had just graduated and I felt obligated to be a part of the things that were going on with our country.”
On Nov. 11, 2004, then PFC Savage, was injured while on patrol with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Haswa, Iraq. Savage was operating a machine gun turret, when his vehicle suddenly struck an improvised explosive device.
“I was conscious the entire time,” said Savage. “I remember feeling the heat wave from the blast and initially thinking we had been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. I did not realize that I was hurt until I went to turn the turret. My arm did not work.”
Savage was immediately evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany and then to Walter Reed Army Medical Center (now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center) where he first learned the extent of his injuries. He had sustained a compound fracture to his right arm, shrapnel wounds to his right forearm and a contusion to his sternum. Savage eventually lost his right arm above the elbow, due to these wounds.
Savage’s struggles throughout his recovery process were minimized thanks to the support of his loving family and another wounded warrior.
“Retired Marine Malcolm ‘Mac’ Garner, who lost his arm in Vietnam and who was also a game warden on base, was influential in assisting me with getting my degree in wildlife,” said Savage. “To see someone with a similar injury successful and giving back was amazing.”
After he transitioned from active duty in 2005, Savage moved back home. He enrolled in college at Mississippi State University and completed his Bachelors of Science in wildlife management in 2010. He currently works for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service at the Baltimore Washington International Airport as a wildlife inspector.
“Chase spends a lot of time mentoring other wounded, ill and injured Marines and is a true inspiration,” said Bob Critcher, the Wounded Warrior Regiment’s outdoor recreation coordinator. “The Regiment encourages our Marines to participate in sporting events and outdoor recreation activities that build their self confidence and ultimately assists with a successful transition such as Chase’s.”
Examples of success stories such as Chase’s are common and will be highlighted throughout the year and during Warrior Care Month in Nov. Warrior Care Month is a Department of Defense-wide effort to celebrate the accomplishments of our wounded, ill and injured Marines and increase awareness throughout the military of wounded warrior support programs and commands. The theme for this year is “Success Through Transition – Education, Employment & Entrepreneurship.”
Savage is being highlighted not only for the success in his career but also in mentoring other Marines. Savage was inspired to introduce newly injured Marines to various outdoor programs and events. “I see myself as one of these guys. I was in their place years ago. This is one way I can give back,” said Savage. “Being outdoors has helped me heal a lot quicker. Therapy in a hospital setting is obviously very important for our returning wounded warriors, but at the same time a weekend spent outdoors can replace weeks of traditional therapy in the overall healing process. It really helped me get back to a life of normalcy.”
Established in 2007, the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment was created to provide and facilitate non-medical care to combat and non-combat wounded, ill, and injured Marines, and sailors attached to or in direct support of Marine units and their family members in order to assist them as they return to duty or transition to civilian life. The Regimental Headquarters element, located in Quantico, Va., commands the operations of two Wounded Warrior Battalions located at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Camp Lejeune, N.C., and multiple detachments in locations around the globe.
For more information about the Wounded Warrior Regiment go to: www.woundedwarriorregiment.org or call the Sgt. Merlin German Wounded Warrior Call Center 24/7 at (877) 487-6299.