“What does our ship do with Malingerers?”
“Can the HMC over-ride a Medical Officer’s Order?”
“Why don’t the Corpsman have to run the Physical Fitness Assessment?”
Allow me to give you a little history on what’s has been going on…
The Medical Department onboard used to run the whole Physical Fitness Assessment Program onboard the ship. My HMC gave it up, because it is a immensely time consuming collateral, and frankly, we are too busy keeping up Operational Readiness Numbers to deal with it. Indirectly, the Medical Department still has a toe in the program, as we attend each Assessment as medical support and monitor support. Usually we assist the Command Fitness Leader (CFL) with weigh-ins and miscellaneous tasks concerning.
The Physical Fitness Assessment is held every 6 months and requires a set amount of Push-ups, sit-ups and a timed 1.5 mile run. The values differ depending on your age and gender. This isn’t the problem… the problem is that with our operational schedule and working hours, it is difficult to have the time or energy to work out when you only have 6 or 7 hours to be at home and do home-like things (especially for those who are married and have children.) Take into account the few who are just pure lazy and don’t want to work out… those are the ones who mysteriously have horrible disabilities about a week or two prior to the Assessment.
Any corpsman will tell you that PFA Season is the busiest for those magical ailments like backaches and knee pain… it’s very difficult to take our crew seriously when they never come in for these issues and they just appear shortly before their required test. And they all get angry when they can’t get a medical waiver to be excused from the Assessment… but in all reality, only legitimate medical issues can receive that medical waiver.
On the same note; we do occasionally send people to the Naval Hospital for follow ups with Physicians who will send back RECOMMENDATIONS (not ORDERS) that they be waived from certain events. And sometimes we send those knee pains to X-ray and when the film comes back with a Radiologists Note saying “Normal knee, no abnormalities or tares visualized.” The service member is pretty upset to learn that they get to try and run that 1.5 miles like the rest of the crew.
Now, don’t get me wrong… I do not actually like the PFA myself. I think it’s silly that we have to run 1.5 miles twice a year, and do push-ups and sit-ups… but it is a condition of our employment and it must be done. Realistically though… most naval ships are between 300 – 1000 feet long… there will probably never come a time when you will have to run 1.5 miles on a ship under 13 minutes to get to a station… (for the record, I can get anywhere on my ship from my office between 30 and 45 seconds.) In all reality, it’s a small price to pay to stay employed by Uncle Sam.
On the topic of malingering… You know… I am really weary on touching this one… So I will tread lightly… It can be perceived by some, that certain people are or may be malingering and getting away with it. While this may be true occasionally… it usually isn’t the case. There are other reasons for a person to not be standing watch or working… But there are some serious issues if medical were to diagnose someone with malingering and there really was something wrong with that patient… especially if they ended up kicking the can or getting hurt. I can’t get too into this without possibily violating patient confidentiality, so I will leave it at that… I just wish my crew knew that if someone were faking it, for the most part, they would get caught.
And last, but definitely not least… “Why don’t the Corpsman run the PFA?” Answer: We do… this isn’t complex math… it’s the honest truth… for every PFA, the monitors are forced to run it earlier than the crew so that there are maximum safety monitors when you have 60 or so sailors at each PFA. And the Corpsmen are no exception… we have to be there in order to help those who may possibly have an issue during the test. (i.e. pass out, twist and ankle, or even have a heart attack.) So painfully… we run it. Unfortunately to the average sailor… if they don’t see someone doing it, it never happened… It’s funny how some people are more preoccupied with what other people may or may not have done instead of what they are doing… I swear, sometimes it’s like being in high school again with all the trivial nonsense that goes on around here.