News: Corpsmen teach over chai, connect with Afghan students
Story by Cpl. Timothy Lenzo
FORWARD OPERATING BASE JACKSON, Afghanistan – A medic places the last bandage on an Afghan soldier. He shouts commands to the soldiers next to him, and they respond, gripping the four corners of the stretcher. Together they carry their injured brother to cover behind a truck.
The Afghan National Army soldiers do well on this exercise - their final exam and the one thing standing in their way from being certified as medics. They trained for eight weeks, and now with the arrival of ANA Brig. Gen. Abdul Wasea, commanding officer, 2nd brigade, 215th Corps, all they need to do is pass this exam.
All five ANA soldiers who attended the Afghan National Security Forces medic course impressed their instructors and passed their final exam with flying colors, March 29.
During the graduation, Wasea did something that wasn’t in the schedule. He called out one of the corpsman to address the ANA formation.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy Nehring Jr., senior corpsman, advisor team, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, stood next to the general and told the ANA soldiers how proud he was of his students. This was Nehring’s last course, as he prepares to transfer his responsibilities to corpsmen with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.
The course covered a variety of medical situations, including handling mass casualty incidents, triage, basic combat lifesaving and patient evacuation.
“I am proud to graduate,” said ANA Staff Sgt. Sherhassans, senior medic, 2nd Kandak, 2nd Brigade. “I am proud to be able to help my friends, soldiers and civilians.”
The course was a learning process not only for the Afghans, but for Nehring as well. At first, he said he struggled to get his students to pay attention during the classroom portions of the course. He found success when he incorporated a part of Afghan culture in his class to help the students feel more comfortable and learn in an environment they were used to.
His corpsmen began serving and drinking chai tea with the Afghans during class time. They found it helped the soldiers concentrate.
“We taught in situations that were more comfortable with them,” said Nehring, “They really pay attention if they have chai tea, and they’re sipping on it.”
Sherhassans said the chai tea was a wonderful idea.
“The tea helped because there was a lot of talking (during classes),” Sherhassans said. “The tea really helped us focus.”
“Nehring shared his experience with his replacement, Petty Officer 2nd Class, Boecker, senior corpsman, advisor team, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.”
“Being with them for seven months, you see they do everything with chai. Why not teach them with chai?” said Nehring.
Nehring said he leaves confident in the skills of Afghan medics he trained.
“The course that we gave is designed for them to be independent,” he said. “When we started, some of them didn’t know where the basic body parts were. Through the eight week course, they can draw out maps of the body, they can do basic sick call, they can read and understand vital signs, and they can do combat medicine.”
The Afghans impressed Boecker with their knowledge and skills.
“The corpsmen who were here before me did an amazing job training these (soldiers). They are some of the better trained medical people I’ve seen,” said Boecker, from Hebron, Md.
Boecker plans on continuing where Nehring left off. He’ll serve tea during class and intends on having the five graduates help teach the next class. His goal is to have the ANA medic course be completely self sufficient before he leaves.
“I am ready to help train more medics,” said Sherhassans. “It is important that we can care for our own people.”
Nehring says he has complete confidence he’s leaving Afghan medics who are ready to answer any call.
“The ANA medics that I trained, if I were a casualty, I feel that they could take care of me,” said Nehring.
Editor’s note: Marines and sailors of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, and 1st Bn., 7th Marines, are currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 6. RCT-6 falls under 1st Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.