Soft Power was the new focus for the US
Towards the turning of the new century, America began a focus on a term known as Soft Power. Soft power was the idea that using goodwill and cooperation to influence the nations and the people of the world was what the US had adopted to be their motto.
Soft Power was best explained in the article titled “International Neighborlines”
In January 1911, an article titled “International Neighborlines” was published describing the need for nations to come together and help each other out. Former president Theodore Roosevelt explained it best that all of our nations needed to band together to help those who were caught in “terrible and overwhelming disaster.”
The president also explained the virtues of “acts of sincere disinterested friendliness” which has been the focal point for Navy Medicine. The duty of the Hospital Corps personnel has been to show diplomacy in medical assistance to nations and people who were affected by natural disasters and poverty.
Which disaster relief operations have the Navy played a vital role in?
San Francisco earthquakes of 1906
Hospital Corpsmen were among the first responders for relief efforts
Messina Sicily earthquakes of 1908
Hospital Corpsmen were also among the first responders during this event
Occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934
Navy physicians traveled all over the country to provide care and medical help to its civilians. From this, they also helped build and progressed the Haitian public health office which is today known as the National d’Hygiene Publique.
Indonesia and South Africa earthquake and tsunami of 2004
In this event, there was a magnitude-9 earthquake that devastated the country. It destroyed the coast of Indonesia all the way to South Africa. At least 230,000 people died and millions more homeless.
The USS Bonhomme Richard, USS Abraham Lincoln, and the USNS Mercy were but a few of the carriers there working to provide medical care and support for those citizens.
New Orleans hurricane Katrina in 2005
Hurricane Katrina hit landfall on the morning of August 29 and laid waste to the area. Within mere days, Hospital Corpsmen were among the first to respond with ships like the hospital ship USNS Comfort.
Roles that the Hospital Corps played in helping improve other countries
Not all deployments were due to natural disasters. Hospital Corpsmen traveled to Cambodia and Sri Lanka to provide care to those injured in hazardous situations.
They also traveled to Djibouti to help improve the industrial health status and survey.
They helped train the Baghdad Coalition Provisional Authority in medical and health training.
Zambia had an HIV/AIDs epidemic and the Hospital Corps were there to help teach and provide medical training to Zambian military personnel.
A few others followed with medical training included Honduras, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
The Hospital Corps evolution in helping and supporting other countries
Towards the 21st century, Navy Medicine was now cooperating with other government agencies in humanitarian operations.
One example included the USNS Comfort’s humanitarian mission throughout all of South America (including the Caribbean) in 2007 seeing and treating almost 100,000 patients. The Navy also had the support of the Army, Air Force, National Guard, Coast Guard, Canadian Defense Force, US Public Health Service, and several NGOs organizations.
Another example was the USNS Mercy that was deployed to the Philippines, Vietnam, Micronesia, Timor-Leste, and Papua New Guinea.
One of the missions from the USNS Comfort was called operation Continuing Promise. This was a 4-month humanitarian mission spanned all across Central and South America coming to the aid of over 100,000 people.
Navy Medicine has since then created a legacy.