News: Preventive medicine: Phantom unit
Story by Pfc. Franklin Mercado
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, Marines and sailors often venture to their local mess hall to enjoy a meal.
Service members head to the chow hall with such frequency that many of them know the menu for each day of the week, but many don’t know who to contact if they discover any circumstances deemed hazardous or harmful to their environment.
The Preventive Medicine Unit, 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group ensures any unsafe or unhealthy conditions that are reported or need to be addressed are handled appropriately.
The unit hosted a Petty Officer Preventive Medicine Course at their compound aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 3.
During the training, sailors learned the procedures for inspecting chow halls. They also learned about food-born illnesses and different types of inspections, such as routine, comprehensive and follow-up.
Every Marine Corps installation has a unit like the PMU, but many service members never realize units like these exist.
When Marines are unaware of the unit, it is a good thing, explained Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles A. Hill, a preventive medicine technician with the PMU.
“If we are inspecting and keeping things in tip-top shape, there should be nothing wrong or to make complaints about,” he said.
“Our job is to make sure the chow halls are clean, safe and a healthy place to enjoy your meals. If the chow halls meet all these standards patrons shouldn’t need to contact us. So we take pride in knowing we do our job well around here.”
The PMU is responsible for the greater French Creek area. Though thriving as the “phantoms” of the MLG, the work they do to ensure they don’t have to make an appearance is continuous.
“We inspect eight chow halls once a month at the least,” Hill said.
“Depending on how the chow halls do on the inspection, we then determine if we need to reassess them during the month. We’ve inspected some chow halls up to three times in a month.”
The PMU is also responsible for training the employees at every chow hall on the knowledge they need to keep it running at a high proficiency. The sailors also test and maintain water quality, and work to combat the outbreak of mosquitoes during the summer months.
“We do such a broad realm of jobs,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Brandi Crocker, a preventive medicine specialist with PMU. “We’re in the field, and with units and hospitals in garrison. Our sailors are doing an outstanding job and work hard at what they do every day.”
Keeping Marines and sailors healthy aboard Camp Lejeune is a priority that supersedes all, and if the PMU maintains its diligence, they will remain the phantom unit aboard the base.