By Eric Dehm
You’ve likely seen the story by now, the one about the obscenely unprofessional photos and video posted by two Hospital Corpsmen at Naval Hospital Jacksonville. The story has gone viral and is being covered all across the country and includes all the things you’d expect, including the official condemnation from the hospital and big Navy.
But, you know what’s been noticeably missing from most reporting on this? Reactions from other Corspmen and moms who gave birth at Navy hospitals. We decided to remedy that and reached out to both groups. To say they have strong opinions on this is an understatement.
Note: We have honored the requests of those who asked to remain anonymous, as some have been directed not to comment on the matter or are worried about adverse effects on their careers. We are also only using first names for the Navy moms as many have husbands still serving.
Former Corpsman (1998-2012)
“As Corpsman, we take the Hippocratic Oath. Part of that is to promise to do ‘no harm’. As a former Corpsman and also as a prior Instructor at Hospital Corpsman school, none of what was seen in those photos demonstrates that they took their oath seriously. It’s disheartening to see such careless and thoughtless images. Our patients deserve respect and they deserve privacy. Posting any photo of any patient goes against those beliefs which are also upheld by regulations and laws. In the wake of Nurse Wubbel fighting to protect her unconscious patients rights and her subsequent arrest, I would hope these Sailors felt a sense of pride in the community they are a part of. Obviously, that is not the case.”
Stefanie (Navy vet who gave birth at a military hospital)
“I am infuriated by the actions of these Corpsmen and the picture it paints for any woman having to go to a military hospital for their child’s labor and delivery. It’s stressful enough without the fear of someone messing with your newborn when you’re not around.”
Jean (Navy vet, currently a nurse)
“As a nurse it’s shocking, because one of the first lessons in school is the absolute sanctity of patient privacy. Incidents like this undermine the trust necessary for caregivers to forge an honest relationship with patients.”
Jennifer (Navy vet, gave birth in a Navy hospital)
“Service members and their families deserve to be treated better, not as though they are just another number… No-one talked to me as though i mattered. More so, the way i was instructed to place my hands, legs, etc. Hurt my ability to push. One of the nurses wrenched my neck so hard i couldn’t even see my son when they put him in my chest… so yeah, i get angry.”
Former Corspman (1997-2002)
“As a parent I think hearing a screaming newborn is the equivalent to having a tooth extracted via the optic canal. It’s not incomprehensible to want to issue a finger or sometimes two. These girls are young, working harder than the majority of their peers… that being said, why the front door would you post that on social media? The post is really what I find to be offensive as it shows very little respect for the Navy uniform and the title of Corpsman and I attribute that to a lack of common sense and just outright stupidity. This makes the whole HM Rating look horribly unprofessional and immature.”
Rebecca (Navy spouse, gave birth in Navy hospitals)
“I am deeply disappointed by the reprehensible behavior of the Jacksonville corpsmen. I delivered both of my children at military hospitals, one overseas, and had outstanding experiences at both facilities. I’m pleased that the Navy is taking the incident seriously however the ‘prohibition of personal cellphones in patient care areas’ falls FAR short of addressing the overall issue of deplorable ethics and personal accountability and that is an exceptionally more extensive issue than what was revealed here.”
Active Duty Corpsman (Chief Petty Officer)
“It is unfortunate and tragic that some of our Sailors lost the importance of ethics and morals in our daily lives. In the advent of technology, the standards are still the same – it is still high. We have to remember that technology in our fingertips made the margin of error slimmer and consequences much more unforgiving. Our leaders up and down the Chain of Command continue to face these challenges on top of a much more demanding culture and environment. I still believe Sailors has the necessary tools to overcome this and the answer lies in our Sailors itself.”