wchen84

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Hi All,

For those of you already doing your active duty or GMO tours (I'm partial towards Navy), how often does humanitarian stuff come up? How likely is it that you participate (I know this must depend on your specialty--what specialty in particular would allow the most freedom/opportunity?)

Thanks!

wchen84
[applying for med schools right now, considering HPSP vs. FAP)
 

Pemberley

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wchen84 said:
Hi All,

For those of you already doing your active duty or GMO tours (I'm partial towards Navy), how often does humanitarian stuff come up? How likely is it that you participate (I know this must depend on your specialty--what specialty in particular would allow the most freedom/opportunity?)

Thanks!

wchen84
[applying for med schools right now, considering HPSP vs. FAP)
I can't really answer your primary question, but be sure to keep in mind that the primary task of most combat units is to kill people and break things. You might get some humanitarian stuff, and you will always be expected to treat captured enemy personnel with dignity -- but it's not the Peace Corps.
 

usnavdoc

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Pemberley said:
I can't really answer your primary question, but be sure to keep in mind that the primary task of most combat units is to kill people and break things. You might get some humanitarian stuff, and you will always be expected to treat captured enemy personnel with dignity -- but it's not the Peace Corps.

This is not so accurate. You are and will do humanitarian all the time when deployed to OIF/OEF. The thing is that when you do it you are doing it under the auspices of "winning hearts and minds" In afghanistan we would routinely offer medical and engineering assistance once we have searched a village and met with the elders. We did this on a daily basis. But as a gmo you have to realize that alot of the time when offering assistance you really dont have much to offer. I mean you can treat an infection here and there but thats about it. You dont have long term medications at your disposal and even if you did who is gonna follow these people once you leave. Just not practical.

We were able to treat some traumas and evac people to civilian and military facilities a few times. You will also treat civilian casualties when they ocur from either side.

Keep in mind that there are also formal humanitarian missions(Katrina, tsunami) that you may get to participate in. But they are few between for a gmo and typically your job would be to take care of your people while rendering assistance rather than taking care of survivors.

The winning hearts and minds is another interesting topic of discussion. Alot of organizations(WHO, MSF or DWB) forwn on this practice. And was part of the reason MSF pulled from afghanistan a few years back.
 

GMO_52

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usnavdoc said:
The winning hearts and minds is another interesting topic of discussion. Alot of organizations(WHO, MSF or DWB) forwn on this practice. And was part of the reason MSF pulled from afghanistan a few years back.
The Mercy is on a 6 month pleasure cruise at the moment stopping in the PI, Indonesia, etc, doing a couple weeks of care in each locale.
 

USAFdoc

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wchen84 said:
Hi All,

For those of you already doing your active duty or GMO tours (I'm partial towards Navy), how often does humanitarian stuff come up? How likely is it that you participate (I know this must depend on your specialty--what specialty in particular would allow the most freedom/opportunity?)

Thanks!

wchen84
[applying for med schools right now, considering HPSP vs. FAP)
as a FP in the USAF I did not, nor do I know anyone who did any humanitarian stuff. With the low manning of FP across the military it would be unlikely for this stuff to be approved for a FP at this time.
 

Galo

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As a surgeon, I was lucky to do 2 humanitarian trips. One to Jamaica, which was a waste of time because the senior surgeons did not really want me to train anyone below them, and also because of the poor prep. I basically took them some outdated equipment, and was able to do a couple of cases, but nothing like the medical side which saw hundreds and hundreds of patients.

My second one was the most fullfilling. It was permissive tdy that was approved at surgeon general command level, because I got a letter from them. Of course, it was all civilian planned. I went to Nicaragua, and taught surgeons how to do lap choles for 7 days, 6 am to 6 PM, as many cases as we could do. They had already done a didactic course set up by the organization under whom I went.

Of course, to end on a good note, while I was there, some a**hole from central command called me up in this remote village, where there is only one phone for the entire hospital, to tell me I was violating territorry, and had not sought approval from central command to be in country. Since I had over 50K worth of equipment, and people to teach, I told him in my officer like manner to go to hell, and do the paperwork wiht my base who had approved my coming there. Eventually, the health minister called the embassy, and I got no more phone calls. When I got back, I wrote up a debreif explaining my actions and my service, and everything was OK till about 6 months later I was accused of not following protocol when I got in trouble for parking in the patient parking lot, on safety day, when there are NO SCHEDULED PATIENTS ANYWHERE OTHER THAN EMERGENCIES. That is only one of the reasons I hated the military so bad, and still cannot respect stupidity. The one freaking day when the lot is not used you can get in trouble for using it. I guess its that stupidity that got me out anyways, as I jaywalked my way to freedom. The military sucks so bad, it still burns me up.

But digressing, in today's climate, the most humanitarian you will get, is to treat Iraqi nationals that have got blown up
 

Galo

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As a surgeon, I was lucky to do 2 humanitarian trips. One to Jamaica, which was a waste of time because the senior surgeons did not really want me to train anyone below them, and also because of the poor prep. I basically took them some outdated equipment, and was able to do a couple of cases, but nothing like the medical side which saw hundreds and hundreds of patients.

My second one was the most fullfilling. It was permissive tdy that was approved at surgeon general command level, because I got a letter from them. Of course, it was all civilian planned. I went to Nicaragua, and taught surgeons how to do lap choles for 7 days, 6 am to 6 PM, as many cases as we could do. They had already done a didactic course set up by the organization under whom I went.

Of course, to end on a good note, while I was there, some a**hole from central command called me up in this remote village, where there is only one phone for the entire hospital, to tell me I was violating territorry, and had not sought approval from central command to be in country. Since I had over 50K worth of equipment, and people to teach, I told him in my officer like manner to go to hell, and do the paperwork wiht my base who had approved my coming there. Eventually, the health minister called the embassy, and I got no more phone calls. When I got back, I wrote up a debreif explaining my actions and my service, and everything was OK till about 6 months later I was accused of not following protocol when I got in trouble for parking in the patient parking lot, on safety day, when there are NO SCHEDULED PATIENTS ANYWHERE OTHER THAN EMERGENCIES. That is only one of the reasons I hated the military so bad, and still cannot respect stupidity. The one freaking day when the lot is not used you can get in trouble for using it. I guess its that stupidity that got me out anyways, as I jaywalked my way to freedom. The military sucks so bad, it still burns me up.

But digressing, in today's climate, the most humanitarian you will get, is to treat Iraqi nationals that have got blown up.
 

i want out

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Couple points.

first, I doubt that there are very many GMO's on the Mercy or the Comfort, since most of those ships are pretty much staffed directly out of the big three.
Even if a GMO could get a billet on one of those big floating puddles of uselessness, they very rarely go out and do anything. The running joke is that they are welded to the pier, and have to be cut to be get underway.

AS for going to outside the US for mission work, on your own.
Since your active duty military, your required to get a country clearance to even be in another country.
Its been a while since I did this, so bear with me.
Generally you have to write a request 30-90days out from your intended date of entering the country. THis request goes to the command element of whatever fleet your entering, for example South Com.
They then issue a country clearance. Your required to take this with you when you travel, as well as notify the embassy either in person, or via phone, their choice both when entering, and exiting the country.

Otherwise they get really touchy.

THats what your supposed to do, and its not really as difficult to do as it sounds. But like everything else in the Navy, its usually easier to ask forgiveness than permission.

I went on one Medical mission trip to southcom when I was a GMO, and had to take personal leave to do it, then the CO required me to mention my mission work in some award package that he was putting the ship in for.

As for doing much when your deployed, there are specific and fairly strict limitations on what you can do in certain AOR's.

If your goal truly is to help people not achieve political goals through humanitarian aid, then you will likely be very frustrated with the military system. Its hard enough to deliver humanistic medicine to the service members. After all, one must understand that the 'winning of hearts and minds' is truly the political goal of the delivery of humanitarian aid by the US government and its military system.

Good luck.

i want out
 

Galo

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i want out said:
AS for going to outside the US for mission work, on your own.
Since your active duty military, your required to get a country clearance to even be in another country.
Its been a while since I did this, so bear with me.
Generally you have to write a request 30-90days out from your intended date of entering the country. THis request goes to the command element of whatever fleet your entering, for example South Com.
They then issue a country clearance. Your required to take this with you when you travel, as well as notify the embassy either in person, or via phone, their choice both when entering, and exiting the country.

Otherwise they get really touchy.

i want out

I did all this. I contacted the embassy, I got approval through MAJCOM, but absolutely no ONE in the orderly room bothered to call south com. Now since I have nothing better to do in my free time other than reading DoD literature, I had no clue what south com even was. This story is just another to illustrate the point of how clueless the military is when in comes to dealing with some of their own paperwork policies, imagine how much more clueless they are about medicine.

Incidentaly, this seems not to be common knowledge, but if as a DoD employee, you happen to want to go on vacation to say Jamaica, you would have to go through this process and let south com know where you are. How many people do this?????
 

former military

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I was asked by a civilian group to go to Nigeria for 1-2 weeks to operate on the locals. It sounded interesting so I asked my commander, the physical therapist. Not only did he forbid me from going as permissive TDY, he said I could not go even if I took my own leave. His shutdown was not protective against the risk of going to a country on the State Dept's watch list he just didn't think we could spare the body away from duty. That is how tight we are strapped.... I asked him...."So I could go to NH to a sister's wedding for 2 weeks on leave and that is o.k. but I couldn't take my own leave and go operate on people....?" "Yes", he said. "That's right".

Apparently.. operating on the underserved on your own time is not part of the core values.