Morale: Firing and Activating Hospital Corpsman


April 6, 2007: The U.S. Navy's Hospital Corpsman crisis just gets worse. Despite the fact that the service is already suffering form a shortage of trained Hospital Corpsmen, the Navy plans to cut back on the number of Hospital Corpsmen on active duty. Many veteran Hospital Corpsmen who are nearing the end of their active duty service obligations are being told that they will not be allowed to re-enlist. The reason given is that Department of Defense (DoD) hospital services are being "outsourced" to private contractors; in military medical facilities many duties performed by nurses in civilian institutions are handled by Hospital Corpsmen and their equivalents in the other services.

Upon discharge, of course, the Hospital Corpsmen will still have an obligation to serve in the Naval Reserve. Given current service demands on reserve personnel, many of these Hospital Corpsmen will be eligible for almost immediate call-up and overseas deployment..

This short-sighted policy is intended to save bucks. But it hurts the service in several ways. For example, working in hospitals and clinics stateside and in rear areas provides Hospital Corpsmen with valuable experience that they can apply when serving with deployed Navy and Marine Corps units. When they rotate back to these installations, the Hospital Corpsmen bring valuable experience, which they can impart to trainees, improving their skills. Under the new policy, new Hospital Corpsmen will not be exposed to veteran personnel, which will undoubtedly reduce their effectiveness when they are deployed in support of combat forces.

In addition, given recent experience with the care being provided to military personnel at Walter Reed Army Hospital suggests other negative consequences of "privatization"


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