Ryan's Project: honoring injured and disabled Marine veterans

Ryan's Project lets injured and disabled Marine Corps veterans know they are not forgotten and that the sacrifices they made are not in vain. Photo: Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Tx., June 29, 2011 ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­— Summer always seems like a patriotic time of year in America. US flags are on display from front porches; patriotic parades and the sound of firecrackers are as much a part of summer as backyard barbeques, lightning bugs and the Ice Cream Man.

We honor fallen members of our military in May, Old Glory in June, and then celebrate our nation’s independence on the Fourth of July.

Our troops are coming home from Iraq and there are plans to pull out of Afghanistan. With that, focus shifts to the veterans who served in these conflicts and others.

It’s a long way from a war zone to non-combat military or civilian life. The men and women who served us so well deal with mental, emotional and physical adjustments from wounds incurred in combat areas.

In North Texas there is a new outreach program for Marines called Ryan’s Project. It is the brainchild of Douglas Robinson. The mission of this group is to promote and provide for wounded and disabled members of the USMC to attend the Marine Corps Ball.

Why is a dance important to Marine veterans? The ball is a celebration of the birth of the United States Marine Corps. In order to understand the full value of this look first to the founding of the Corps and what the occasion entails.

The Commandant’s Marine Corps Birthday Ball website describes the founding of the Marines this way:

On November 10, 1775, the Second Continental Congress resolved to raise two battalions of “American Marines.” Congress commissioned 31-year-old Samuel Nicholas … as captain of the fledgling force … Nicholas raised two battalions of Marines and began the long, illustrious history of the United States Marine Corps.

Captain Nicholas enlisted these men at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the Marine Corps. The date wasn’t a big part of Corps life until 1921.

According to Heritage Press International,

All U.S. Marines are gung-ho. But, few can match the vision and total commitment of the famous 13th Commandant, Gen. John A. Lejeune. In 1921 he issued Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921.

General John A. Lejeune, Commandant, USMC

General John A. Lejeune, Commandant, USMC

Gen. Lejeune’s order summarized the history, mission, and tradition of the Corps. It further directed that the order be read to all Marines on 10 November of each year to honor the founding of the Marine Corps. Thereafter, 10 November became a unique day for U.S. Marines throughout the world.

In 1925 Philadelphia played host to the first Marine Corps Ball at the Ben Franklin Hotel.

Thirty years later Commandant General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. formalized the ball throughout the Corps. This included the Marine Corps Birthday Message written by General Lejeune, the Cake Cutting Ceremony and a message from the current Commandant of the Marine Corps as part of the commemoration. These revisions and others first appeared in the Marine Drill Manual in 1956.

Every year Marines celebrate the creation of the Corps no matter where they are; stateside, an overseas base or in a combat zone. Not all places can hold the ceremonies and dance, but one way or another the day is remembered.

It’s easy to see why this celebration is so important to these heroes. And it is important to Doug Robinson because it was important to his son, Sgt. Ryan Matthew Robinson, USMC.

Sgt. Ryan Matthew Robinson, USMC (Photo: Douglas Robinson)

Sgt. Ryan Matthew Robinson, USMC (Photo: Douglas Robinson)

Ryan Robinson died in 2008 as a result of a traumatic brain injury he received from an improvised explosive device while serving in Iraq in 2006. Ryan was in the 2nd Battalion, 14th Marines, H/Q Battery.

His father explains,

“Ryan had to go to the VA quite often due his TBI … for meds … etc. He was always wondering where the Marines that he saw there … amputees, burn victims, disfigured, spinal cord injuries, TBI … why did he not see them at the Marine Corps Ball. Knowing that I have worked with so many charities and non-profits over the years … he mentioned it to me … saying, “wouldn’t it be cool if there was some kind of an organization that got these guys out of their beds, paid their way, provided everything they would need … and got them to the Marine Corps Ball … and let them know they had not been forgotten?”

Douglas and his wife Bonnie Robinson, moved by their son’s desire to support wounded Marines, took up his ideal and started Ryan’s Project in 2010.

Sgt. Robinson understood the significance of the Marine Corps Ball and was concerned for injured vets that didn’t have the resources to attend. Ryan wanted to let them know they still belong; sacrifices they made were not in vain.

Ryan appreciated that wounded vets don’t usually get to enjoy an evening out, or that some may feel awkward in the company of so many people due to their injuries.

To reach out to these heroes, Ryan conceived this way to honor them. It would provide an all-expenses-paid night out of the hospital or their homes with fitted dress blues, an escort, and a limousine.

(Image: Douglas Robinson)

(Image: Douglas Robinson)

In this Ryan’s grieving parents honor their son and carry out his vision.

This is the debut year for the project with the aim being to sponsor attendance for wounded North Texas Marines to the Marine Corps Ball in Dallas, Texas.

Later Doug and Bonnie plan to expand assistance for vets. According to the website,

“Later as we grow, Ryan’s Project will reach out to active and veteran service members, collaborating with other veteran organizations in an effort to meet the needs of our wounded heroes. We hope to touch the lives of those wounded after sacrificing so much for their country.”

The Robinsons know quite a bit about wounds and sacrifice.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if Ryan’s Project outreach programs started up all around our country? It would be a wonderful way to esteem our Marine veterans and it would greatly honor a family that has given so much.


For more information about this organization click here: Ryan’s Project. Ryan’s Project can also be found on Facebook, and Twitter.

Doug Robinson can be contacted at: douglas.robinson@ryansproject.com


For Claire Hickey, writing is a newly realized passion. Read more of Claire’s work at Feed The Mind, Nourish The Soul in the Communities at The Washington Times, her blog Sustenance For The Mind, and the writing group she belongs to at Greater Fort Worth Writers Group.

Join her on Facebook at facebook.com/Claire0803 and

Twitter http://twitter.com/Claire0803

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Claire Hickey

Claire has held a Texas Cosmetology License, Certification in Surgical Technology and has decorated cakes professionally. She believes that life is a banquet to be experienced and wants to learn and do as much as possible while she’s here. This Stay @ Home Mom has always loved to write and thanks to the Communities @ The Washington Times has got her chance. Her curiosity and writing lead her to create her column based on “garbage in garbage out” theory to provide interesting and thought provoking pieces that enrich her readers. A proud member and Treasurer for the Greater Fort Worth Writer’s Group she is currently working on her first novel.  


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