I am a veteran of the United States Navy. In particular, I am proud to have been part of the illustrious group known as the United States Navy Hospital Corps. I wasn’t a great corpsman, or a great asset to the Navy in general during my time — I’m way too anti-authoritarian, to be honest — but I was still honorably discharged and still proudly hold my time as a corpsman precious.
So you may imagine how I viewed the stories I saw on Wednesday regarding “employees” at Naval Hospital Jackson who had videoed newborns in an “inappropriate” manner. Both as a former corpsman and a parent, I was livid. Anyone with half a brain understands what they did was wrong. As reported by 14 News, “The exclusive video appeared to show staff at Naval Hospital Jacksonville handling a newborn inappropriately.” According to a source, “the video was posted on social media, and so were photos showing a staff member making an obscene gesture at an infant with the caption, ‘How I currently feel about these mini Satans.'”
The video showed the individual holding up the newborn, making it dance to the music playing in the background.
Naval Hospital Jacksonville had this to say:
However, to me, another upsetting factor was the identity of the two individuals who did this. “The two women, identified on social media as Allyson Thompson and Joanie Barrett, are Navy sailors who are hospital corpsmen and not registered nurses, though they do provide care to patients,” the report said.
Even now, I can feel my blood pressure rising in rage.
No, these two are not registered nurses. They’re corpsmen. They’re part of the only all-enlisted corps in the United States Armed Forces. They’re part of a brother and sisterhood that includes heroes beyond counting. They’re part of a group of people where those who earned Medals of Honor typically had to die to get them, because “above and beyond the call of duty” is pretty damn hard when your duty calls for actions that earn other people medals.
Even so, corpsmen have been awarded more medals for valor than any other rating in the United States Navy. In addition to naval hospitals and ships, corpsmen can be found with groups like the United States Marine Corps and the Navy SEALs. Hell, legendary SEAL Marcus Luttrell of Lone Survivor fame is one of our number.
For these two to disgrace the caduceus they wear on their arms, the symbol of the Hospital Corps, flies in the face of every bit of their training which I know for a fact includes professionalism and patient confidentiality. I can only imagine that now that cell phones are so ubiquitous, training also includes lessons on using them. In particular, don’t.
In a way, these two individuals are lucky. They’re lucky I’m not their senior corpsman, LPO, or LCPO. They’re fortunate that I have no authority over what will happen to them going forward, because they not only broke every rule imaginable while dealing with newborns, they also disgraced the Hospital Corps.
Our reputation was hard fought and earned with the blood of those who came before us.
Think of the iconic photo of the Marine Corps in World War II, raising the American flag on Iwo Jima. One of the men wasn’t a Marine. He was John “Doc” Bradley, a Navy corpsman.
In the campaign for the Solomon Islands during World War II, two Marines were injured. A corpsman grabbed one and began running toward a hole for safety. He was wounded multiple times, but made it and dropped off the Marine. He then went back, taking more fire and being wounded more, until he got the other Marine and completed the trip, being wounded more before he dropped the second Marine and collapsed, dead.
There on the back of his shirt, one of the Marines wrote, “Where angels and Marines fear to tread, there you’ll find a corpsman dead.”
That is the legacy these two took a dump on.
I pray they are stripped of their caduceus and sent on into the world, where their names will forever be associated with this nonsense. The Hospital Corps does not need people who would do this to their patients.
Do not let their status as non-registered nurses fool you. They knew better.