PARRIS ISLAND, SC, UNITED STATES
PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. - For 12 weeks, recruits push themselves toward one goal – earning the title Marine. They are constantly challenging their bodies to become physically stronger, but at times, the stressful environment of recruit training can cause their bodies to fail.
Navy corpsmen at Parris Island are entrusted with getting them back in the fight quickly and efficiently.
“Our primary mission is to provide the best health care for the recruits, drill instructors and permanent personnel,” said Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Brad Kowitz, command master chief at the Parris Island medical clinic. “We take great pride in this privilege, because we know that we could be walking side-by-side in harm’s way with these Marines.”
Keeping recruits and drill instructors physically fit makes the Parris Island medical clinic on the depot one of the Navy’s busiest.
“We do everything in our power to make sure the recruits are healthy at all times and get the best possible health care that’s available from us,” said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Flagg, leading petty officer for the permanent personnel department at the clinic.
Recruits interact with corpsmen within 48 hours of their arrival on the depot, Kowitz said. The corpsmen, enlisted service members commonly referred to as “docs,” make sure the recruits are medically qualified to begin training.
After initial checkups and vaccinations, recruits will spot corpsmen at most of their training events. To the Navy docs, these events, called coverages, are not training.
Recruits can sustain major injuries at some of the events, so corpsmen have to be around to provide quick medical care, said Navy Seaman Apprentice Halie Rakow, a hospital corpsman at the 4th Recruit Training Battalion aid station. With injuries, time is everything. It's important to get the recruits treated as soon as possible.
Rakow said that on coverages, corpsmen actively watch for any signs of mishaps.
“Everything that [recruits] do is high-speed and high-paced, so it takes a toll on your body,” Flagg said.
When the recruits interact with corpsmen, it begins a relationship of trust between future Marine and doc, Flagg said. When trust is formed, recruits and Marines are more likely to seek medical help when needed.
“If they don’t come here and get good health care, and see that we’re compassionate and caring about their injury, they are not going to have a very good first impression, and that trust is going to be fractured,” Kowitz said.
Recruits are often scared to go to medical for fear of being dropped from their company and staying at training longer, Rakow said. That is why it is so important to form that trust.
“It’s important for the recruits to understand that we're not here to drop them. We're just trying to keep them at their best,” she said.
Rakow said working with recruits on a daily basis gave her the opportunity to see things others do not.
“You really see a side of these recruits that they aren't usually allowed to display during training,” she said. “It's in [the clinic] that you can really see the ones that are literally willing to keep going on broken bones because they're that dedicated to becoming a Marine.
“First impressions can be everything sometimes,” Rakow continued. “What these recruits experience here in medical can set the tone in their careers for how they look at the corpsman they work with out in the field.”
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This work, Marines, corpsmen build bonds at Parris Island, by LCpl Francisco Abundes, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.