Marine Detachment in Cairo with Senator John McCain (R-AZ). (Photo courtesy of Cmdr. Carrie Kennedy)

Corpsmen: Meeting the Medical Needs of Marine Corps Embassy Security Guards

By Cmdr. Carrie Kennedy, group psychologist, Marine Corps Embassy Security Group

Marine Detachment in Cairo with Senator John McCain (R-AZ). (Photo courtesy of Cmdr. Carrie Kennedy)
Marine Detachment in Cairo with Senator John McCain (R-AZ). (Photo courtesy of Marine Corps Embassy Security Group)

What do you get when you distribute 1500 Marines to diplomatic posts all over the world? A serious challenge for military medicine. Marine Security Guards (MSGs) have been providing protection of classified material and our people and property at U.S. embassies and consulates all over the world since 1948. And just because these Marines may be in Ouagadougou, Zagreb, Port-au-Prince, Kabul, Muscat or Guangzhou doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled to the same quality medical care provided to all service members. Since MSGs serve in a minimum of three countries throughout their tour, one or more of which are practically guaranteed to be third world, screening is highly restrictive and most existing medical conditions are disqualifying for the duty. But despite being free of medical conditions upon entry into the duty, as in all things, life happens – and so do malaria, appendectomies, depression, fractures and any other host of medical issues. So what’s the solution – well, ONE Navy corpsman of course.

Marine Detachment in Phnom Penh. (Photo courtesy of Gunnery Sgt. Joe Faragone)

Corpsmen have historically done an array of unique jobs in Navy Medicine and supporting Marine Security Guards is no exception.  Hospital Corpsman 1St Class Shedrick Peters is currently the Fleet Marine Force Navy corpsman assigned to Marine Corps Embassy Security Group (MCESG), serving as medical chief, essentially a special staff officer, he is the medical lifeline for the commanding officer. In meeting the mission, he supports the behavioral sciences assessment and selection program; conducts screening interviews; liaises between overseas screening and the command; and coordinates between the various geographic regions, Department of State Medical and Tricare. In addition, he provides training in everything from navigating Tricare overseas to sexually transmitted diseases; provides corpsman support to high risk training evolutions; maintains the command’s medical readiness; and because there are only two Navy personnel assigned to the command, acts as physical fitness coordinator and every other collateral you can think of to maintain the small Navy contingent. Like the corpsmen who have come before him, his impact on the lives of Marines is enormous. Everyone knows that Marines can’t exist without their Doc and this is especially true when they are spread throughout the world. Editor’s note: This month Navy Medicine celebrates the 116th birthday of the Navy Hospital Corps. Check out Vice Adm. Nathan’s birthday message to our Navy corpmen here