OKINAWA, Japan - Service members pride themselves on physical fitness. However, maintaining a healthy body and staying mission ready requires more than just hitting the gym or pavement.
U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa hosted a men’s health seminar at the Camp Lester Chapel Sept. 17 addressing health issues male service members sometimes overlook. The seminar was open to all and discussed many topics and concerns related to men’s health.
“Men generally tend to neglect their health,” said Navy Lt. Erik D. Brink, a guest speaker at the seminar and general surgeon at USNH Okinawa. “It’s important to know that there are certain stages in life when we can prevent problems from accruing and better our health.”
The seminar provided valuable insight, which can help men identify problems early. Early detection can prevent minor health complications from becoming life-changing or even life-threatening problems, according to Brink.
The seminar focused on problems that can be controlled with proper knowledge and precautions, as certain health issues are out of an individual’s hands.
“Genetics can’t be controlled,” said Brink. “But there are actions we can take to reduce the chances of certain illnesses developing. For example, smoking can increase your chances of developing cancer, so it is important to be informed on the dangers associated with such habits.”
Physical ailments are frequently thought of first when discussing health issues. However, it is just as important to maintain a healthy mental mindset. The seminar also educated attendees on how to identify and improve their mental health.
“Mental health is formed during the early years of life and affects you all the time,” said Capt. Catherine M. MacDonald, a guest speaker at the seminar and director of mental health services at USNH Okinawa. “By identifying your state of mind, it allows you to properly cope with stress and make corrective actions.”
The seminar also addressed sensitive subjects like cancer, mental health and sexually transmitted diseases in an open forum, which helped to inform participants who otherwise might be hesitant to ask questions related to these topics.
“I learned about the symptoms of different illnesses and what to do to treat them,” said Lt. Cmdr. Martin F. Shell, a seminar attendee. “I would recommend this class to anyone.”
Seminars are held annually at Camp Lester for both men’s health awareness month and women’s health awareness month. Additional courses are available upon request for interested units on Okinawa.