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Quantico is barely buzzing with morning activity when Mr. Paul Williamson is well into his morning routine. Dressed in a full suit, Williamson drives to work in his rusty Toyota pickup truck, fills the small bird feeder outside the Wounded Warrior Regiment Headquarters building, and shows up to his office to serve a population of Marines and d wounded, sick and injured veterans. This January, Williamson celebrated 51 years of servant leadership, either as an enlisted sailor or as a civilian government employee caring for fellow service members.

Williamson enlisted in the US Navy on June 4, 1969.

“I had recently graduated from high school and didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I realized I wasn’t ready for college academically and financially, but I knew I didn’t want to stay in my small town in South Dakota, ”Williamson said.

After graduating from training camp in October 1969, Williamson began his military occupational specialty training in Denver. He excelled and was the academic leader of his class. However, despite his superb performance, he would never graduate and never win the MOS.

“They learned that I didn’t have stereoscopic vision, which was a prerequisite,” Williamson explained. “I was taken out of this training and sent for administrative training in San Diego, California.”

Stereoscopic vision refers to the ability to judge distance and develop true depth perception using both eyes.

Despite the setback, Williamson excelled in that first duty station at Naval Air Station Agana, Guam. His unit chose him as the neighborhood sailor and he received a nomination for nomination to the United States Naval Academy. Williamson had to undergo a physical before attending, where he again faced bad news.

“My physique revealed that I still did not have normal depth perception, which was a requirement to enter the academy. It was a big disappointment for me at the time, ”admitted Williamson.

“Collectively, the men and women in uniform, government civilians and contractors have built a world-class organization that is admired …” Paul Williamson, Command Advisor, US Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment

Determined to excel wherever possible, Williamson has pursued a career of excellence. He was regularly selected as the neighborhood sailor or sailor of the year. He was the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet Sailor of the Year ashore in 1978. The following year Williamson was named the Ensign’s Limited Service Officer. He retired from active service on January 1, 2001, almost 32 years after his enlistment.

Since his retirement, Williamson has remained committed to serving his nation by caring for wounded, ill and injured service members. As department chairman of the Navy Physical Assessment Board from 2001 to 2007, Williamson played a major role in streamlining the process for injured service members and veterans to apply for and receive their disability benefits. . This resulted in the implementation of the Integrated Disability Assessment System in Active Service and Veterans Communities. This experience serving the disabled veterans community led him to his current role as Command Advisor for the Wounded Warrior Regiment, established in 2007.

“When I became chair of the Navy Physical Assessment Committee department, the organization had the worst reputation, of any service, for the speed and accuracy of our disability determinations. The average processing time for cases was 54 days. In two years, our team has reduced this time to seven days, ”said Williamson.

Looking back on his time on duty, Williamson’s fondest memory is owning boards at WWR. A plank owner is a naval phrase meaning that someone was part of a ship’s crew when it was first commissioned – an apt adage of a career sailor.

“Collectively, the men and women in uniform, government civilians and contractors have built a world-class organization that is admired not only by those we serve, but also by those who observe our commitment to the mission and keep up. faith with the Marines.

Williamson takes pride in his civilian service because he has been with an organization focused entirely on the recovery of wounded, ill and injured service members.

“I once had the father of a recovering Marine, who himself had been a wounded Marine in Vietnam times, came to me and thanked me for being part of a such a wonderful organization that did not exist during her service and was now providing world class care to her son.

Williamson recognizes how his own stereo blindness affected his approach to serving and caring for Marines.

“[I have] A greater degree of empathy for conditions that don’t seem obvious, ”he said. “If you miss a leg or an arm or an eye, people will immediately say ‘oh ok this guy served. Obviously, he’s a wounded Marine. But someone who has suffered psychological events, or who may have suffered from an illness or injury that is not visible, is not necessarily treated the same. You all deserve the recovery care support that the Marine Corps can provide; whether it is to bring you back to full active service or to assist in your recovery and transition as a civilian. “

In February 2022, Williamson will exceed 20 years as a civilian federal employee, 14 of them at WWR.

“I don’t think I’m ready for a recliner with a built-in cooler yet. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “By far the best price life has to offer is the chance to work hard for a job that is worth it.” The regiment’s mission is definitely that prize for me!

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