MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is the home of Marine expeditionary forces in readiness and is the largest Marine Corps installation on the East Coast. The need to maintain readiness is paramount and includes the health of Marines aboard the base. The Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune’s Health Promotion and Wellness team is doing their part to keep troops healthy, specifically in the area of sexual health, this April.
Sexual health education is part of the Marine Corps’ annual required training, said John Swett, a health educator for Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune. The Health Promotion and Wellness team is an asset to units seeking to fulfill this requirement or looking to provide their Marines with instruction on the topic.
“You’re being given this information and once you’re given this information you’re (more informed) on the topic,” said Swett. “When you make a decision, you’re making a decision with the knowledge on hand and you have to be willing to accept the consequences.”
Swett also said there is a lot of information that needs to be covered. It is not something that can be done properly in just a few minutes, and it is important to have a qualified instructor come out to inform people.
“If they contact us, we will come out and we will do awareness lectures,” said Swett. “If they want to schedule Professional Military Education, we will gladly do them.”
Sexual health is a topic of concern for more than just the military. Sexually transmitted diseases are a major concern for the U.S. as a whole, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are approximately 19 million new infections every year. On top of the personal toll these infections take, STDs cost the U.S. health care system around $17 billion each year.
“A Marine who is down with an STD is not really in a deployable status,” said Swett. “You have got to think about the readiness status of that Marine.”
What is more, the CDC’s data also shows a troubling trend with several treatable diseases such as gonorrhea. More than 300,000 cases of gonorrhea were reported in 2010, and there are some signs that the disease may become resistant to current treatment options.
Yet sexual health is far more than disease prevention. The World Health Organization considers a sexually healthy person to be in a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well being in relation to sexuality.
The Health Promotion and Wellness team provides numerous classes to help the MCB Camp Lejeune community stay on top of their overall health. They provide regular classes targeting everything from tobacco cessation to proper nutrition.
All areas of health involve risk management, said Swett. There is a lot of information that people just aren’t aware of regarding their sexual health.
The Health Promotion and Wellness building is located across the street from the base theater. Their classes are open and free to active-duty personnel and their families, retired military, their families and Department of Defense employees. Anyone interested in attending a course or seeking information can call 451-3712.
Those seeking more information about the CDC’s data on STDs or looking for more information on healthy living can visit cdc.gov/sexualhealth or nmcphc.med.navy.mil/Healthy_Living.