The Challenges that Hospital Corpsmen faced in Iraq

In March 2003, a team called the 1st Expeditionary Force (I MEF) accompanied by Corpsmen invaded Iraq on a mission to remove Sadaam Hussein. The operation was injunction with the United Nations on a mission that took them deep into Iraq.

About a year later in March 2004, the 1st Medical Battalion returned to Iraq to offer assistance to a team called the 82nd Airborne Division Medical Unit.

How did the first legitimate Iraqi elections come about?

At the time, the current operation was called Iraqi Freedom II. The 1st Medical Battalion gave support to Marines throughout the Al Anbar Province, a place considered the largest governorate in Iraq. They removed the insurgent of Fallujah and made room for the first unimposed elections to happen in Iraq.

What was the Shock Trauma Platoon (STP) concept?

During the Iraqi conflict, Navy Medicine used the Shock Trauma Platoon (STP) concept. The STP was a small, mobile medical team that traveled with assault units from just behind the front lines.

They found that the SPT team was rather successful in that pit treated over a hundred and forty combat casualties with a 98% survival ratio. They were able to maintain the health of those who are injured for long enough to call on higher echelon medical support.

Soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan with TBI and PTSD

The Overseas Contingency Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were best known to have it’s Marines and Sailors return home with traumatic brain injury (TBI) as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Post-traumatic stress disorder was labeled with showing:

  • Nostalgia
  • Neurasthenia
  • Shell shock
  • Combat fatigue

Although PTSD was nothing new, it was only recently in 1980 been acknowledged as a diagnosable psychological disorder.

What’s the prevalence of soldiers who come back with PTSD in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Studies have shown that at least 1 in 6 returning from combat operations in Iraq suffered from a disorder with as many as 300,000 veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan war.

Combat medical personnel such as Hospital Corpsmen we’re in a unique position. They had to care for those who were psychologically wounded while at the same time being exposed to the same stresses themselves.

Stress and burnout were an inevitable part of the war and campaigns that these Hospital Corpsmen were challenged through.

The United States recognized this all too well. The Navy Medical Department now boasts one of the finest mental health care provider centers for service members and veterans.

Where did the military march called “Corpsman Up!” come from?

So the story behind this is that Chief Warrant Officer 4 Brian Dix, who was the director of the Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps,  met with HM3 Joe Worley.  HM3 Worley was badly injured from a grenade and several bullet wounds in the battle of Fallujah, Iraq. He told the chief warrant officer what had happened on that day and to him and his platoon.

CWO4 Dix decided to create a military march he titled “Corpsman Up!”  It was a military march dedicated to show appreciation and recognize the hospital corpsman who fought bravely.

Leave a Comment