July 28, 2015 --
The moment the Marine Corps Band finished playing, “Admiral’s March,” the Marines from Company A, Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. stood ready, holding their rifles perfectly perpendicular to the ground at present arms. The blast of the cannons’ 19-gun-salute shook windows and surprised guests. Most importantly, however, the ceremony reminded all who were present of the pride and professionalism of their Marine Corps, and it welcomed to the ranks the Corps’ newest Honorary Marine, Congressman Robert Wittman.
During the July 27, 2015 honors ceremony at the Home of the Commandants in Washington, D.C., Wittman from the 1st Congressional District of Virginia, was named an Honorary Marine by Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., commandant of the Marine Corps, for his extensive support of wounded warriors and his contributions to ensuring the readiness and care of active duty Marines and their families.
“What a tremendous honor,” said Wittman. I will do everything I can to continue that effort in supporting our Marines and their families.
According to Wittman’s biography, he has quickly earned a reputation for being an advocate for men and women in uniform.
“As passionate as Congressman Wittman is about his position in Congress and advancing the needs of our nation, he’s never lost the ability to be compassionate about individual people and in our case, individual Marines and their families,” said Dunford.
Wittman’s contributions to the individual Marine are far more personal than advocating for the Corps’ readiness in Congress, he spends his free time seeking outdoor hunting and fishing opportunities for wounded warriors.
For more than a decade Wittman has supported the Quantico Injured Military Sportsman Association, a non-profit organization that provides all-encompassing, expense-free outdoor experiences to wounded warriors from all services, regardless of injury or hunting and fishing background.
"When he first volunteered for QIMSA he offered to do whatever was needed to support our mission in helping the wounded warriors get back into the outdoors,” said Fred Salo, President of QIMSA and Head of Range Control Section at Range and Training Area Management Branch, Training and Education Command.
The Congressman didn't spend much time standing around; he jumped right in supporting local QIMSA events, getting soaked and dirty in the field with the wounded warriors.
Wittman opens his farm in Montross, Va. as a hunting camp for wounded warriors, and he plans every logistical detail to ensure the service members' needs are fully met.
"We know what he has to give up, in terms of time, to support the wounded warriors," said Salo. "We are all busy, but the individual time he spends away from his demanding job and family speaks volumes to his support for our wounded service members."
Wittman works closely with the Montross community garnering support for the visiting injured service members - whether it is a sponsored meal at a restaurant or getting permission from neighboring farmers to use their fields for expanded hunting grounds. He introduces the wounded warriors to his friends and family, and he guides them to the best hunting holes.
“I think the highest compliment and respect you can pay somebody is when you treat them like a member of your own family,” said Dunford. “Congressman Wittman has treated the United States Marines and their families like his own family.”
The Honorary Marine title was christened in 1992, and according to Marine Corps Order 5060.19B, the Honorary Marine title is designed to reinforce the special bond between the American people and the Corps by recognizing individuals in the civilian community who have made extraordinary contributions to the Marine Corps.
We wanted to recognize Congressman Wittman tonight because of what he’s done for our wounded warriors behind the scenes, said Dunford. It hasn’t been with fanfare, it’s been because of his compassionate leadership.