By Stacey Byington, U.S. Naval Hospital Guantanamo Bay Public Affairs
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- Detailers from the hospital corpsmen community and a member of the placement team visited U.S. Naval Hospital Guantanamo Bay (USNH GTMO), March 20-21.
The visit offered detailers a better sense of the requirements of the command, and provided Sailors an opportunity to talk to their detailers face-to-face.
Leading the team was Master Chief Hospital Corspman (SW/AW/FMF) Lucas Van Emelen, lead detailer for Navy corpsmen. He was accompanied by Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/FMF) Vincent Soto, the HM "A" and "C" schools detailer, and Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (FMF/SW) John Kitchen, a member of the enlisted placement team.
"Our detailer visit was a huge success," said Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Betty Watson, USNH GTMO command master shief. "To have them come here and actually experience GTMO helps them understand issues and requirements here as they attempt to fill our billets."
Watson said that the hospital's corpsmen learned about different billets available to them and the process for selecting people for those billets.
"Our Sailors know they matter, and most of those who needed orders received them," added Watson.
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Latoya Hooper works in the hospital's pharmacy and said her interaction with the detailers was very beneficial.
"My visit with the detailer was great," said Hooper. "I was very impressed by Chief Soto, and the level of knowledge he possessed with regards to the submission
of my IDC School (Independent Duty Corpsman) request package. I was pointed in the right direction very quickly, and by the time my session was over, I knew exactly what I needed to do."
The visitors from Milington said they were impressed with the quality of GTMO corpsmen and the professionalism everyone displayed.
"We are working diligently to understand the needs here," said Van Emelen. "It has been an eye-opening experience. It's a beautiful place."
One of the issues currently challenging the command is the fact that Fed/Fire does not currently operate ambulance services for the community. Corpsmen who work in the hospital's emergency room need to be certified emergency medical technicians (EMT), and must qualify to drive the hospital's ambulances.
"We do it all," said Capt. Barth Merrill, USNH GTMO executive officer. "GMTO is one of those places where junior corpsmen can get training in areas that they might not get in other assignments."
A good percentage of the command's enlisted Sailors are junior corpsmen on their first assignment out of "A" school. In addition, many corpsmen who come to Guantanamo Bay are single or arrive unaccompanied without their families, which means shorter tour lengths thus, staff turnover is a challenge.
In a brief to hospital leadership, the detailers said that public perception of GTMO tends to influence Sailors who might otherwise consider orders to the hospital.
"One of the things we need to do is change the mindset of how Guantanamo Bay is perceived," said Soto. "When I mention GTMO to corpsmen, they tend to react negatively. We need to change that image."
What many corpsmen and other enlisted personnel who could get orders to GTMO do not realize is that there is much more to the base.
The base has almost 6,000 residents, and hospital personnel interact with almost all of them. The detention center is several miles away from where most people live and work on the base. During off-duty hours most people fish, kayak, scuba dive, and snorkel. There is also a DoDDS school system for kindergarten through 12th grades.
"GTMO is a great place to come for those with families," said Merrill. "If corpsmen want leadership and education opportunities, then they should consider orders to GTMO."
Corpsmen play an essential role in the fleet's health and wellness. That readiness is an area of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department.
For more news from U.S. Naval Hospital Guantanamo Bay, visit www.navy.mil/local/nhgb/.