Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Ask the Doc: Senior NCO in the Know

Image of Lt. Cmdr. David Griffin, a urologist at Naval Hospital Pensacola, discusses a treatment plan with a patient in the Urology Clinic. Some of the common conditions seen at the clinic include male infertility, sexual health, kidney stones, urinary tract infections, urologic cancers, blood in the urine, urinary problems, vasectomies and more. Lt. Cmdr. David Griffin, a urologist at Naval Hospital Pensacola, discusses a treatment plan with a patient in the Urology Clinic. Some of the common conditions seen at the clinic include male infertility, sexual health, kidney stones, urinary tract infections, urologic cancers, blood in the urine, urinary problems, vasectomies and more.

Recommended Content:

Men's Health | Ask The Doc

Dear Doc: As I progress through my 40s, I'd like to think I've lived a pretty healthy life to this point. As a service member, I've kept myself in shape, ate well and always listened to my body throughout my career. Unfortunately, I can't say as much for some other members of my peer group. I know we are trained to be "warriors," and a lot of us feel that if we aren't self-sufficient, it may somehow make us less efficient as soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines. I can't help but feel like there's a stigma associated with monitoring yourself or furthermore, getting help, especially among men and issues related specifically to men's health. 

My question is, how can I convince these guys that there is nothing wrong or "weak" about getting help with health issues, male-specific or otherwise?

Senior NCO in the Know

Illustration of a female face with the words "Ask the Doc"

Dear Advice: I recently talked to Army Capt. (Dr.) Ian Ferguson, Internal Medicine Physician at Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital, about the stigma surrounding men seeking healthcare and health advice and here's what he had to say:


You make great points and ask good questions.

We don’t always talk about it, but men (just like anyone else) are often subject to societal and cultural notions that don’t really make all that much sense. A lot of us are taught from a young age to be tough, self-sufficient, not to complain and, when we are hurting or otherwise out of commission to, “rub a little dirt in it.” I won’t say that those ideas are completely without value, but a strict adherence to such machismo can actually be counter-productive.

One of the most important ideas in our line of work is Readiness. We need, as a military, to be ready to execute our duty when called to action. How can we truly be ready if we ignore problems we are facing? We wouldn’t use faulty equipment to perform a task, nor would we ignore the regular maintenance of that equipment in the first place. Following this logic, one can see that seeking care for our ailments, whether they be physical, mental, or spiritual, is actually the realization of one of our core principles.

In fact, part of being self-sufficient is knowing when to reach for a new tool when the one you’re using isn’t up to snuff. We can all do our part to foster an environment where malignant attitudes about seeking help are muffled.

The next time you see a fellow warrior suffering, consider saying, “You should get that checked out,” or, “Maybe you should talk to someone about that,” instead of, “Suck it up.” It’s small measures like these taken in composite that will eventually change the culture around men seeking care, both in our military, and in our society at large. In short, keeping your body, mind, and spirit in a high-functioning state is part of the job, and it is part of being a high-functioning warrior. We all need a little help from time to time and knowing when to go in for that oil-change or tune-up is nothing if not self-sufficient. 


Senior, the bottom line is that the line of thinking you described actually makes you less self-sufficient, less efficient and, in fact, less of a warrior. Many of us maintain weapons, vehicles, aircraft, equipment and facilities on a daily basis. There should be no difference when it comes to maintaining ourselves.

I can’t guarantee that it might not take some time, but if you can convince those around you of this, you should be good to go.

Take care (of yourself and your fellow warriors) out there!

-Doc

You also may be interested in...

Chlamydia is the Military's Most Common Sexually Transmitted Infection

Article
6/21/2022
Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S., and most people who have it don’t know it. You may be able to get STI testing and treatment at your local community health clinic. In the photo, a service member at Naval Medical Center Camp LeJeune Community Health Clinic gets tested for STIs.  (Photo: Naval Medical Center Camp LeJeune Public Affairs)

Rates for Chlamydia have been rising in recent years. Chlamydia can cause permanent damage that can make it difficult or impossible for women to get pregnant. It often shows no symptoms at all but in some cases, it can cause a burning sensation when peeing in both men and women.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Men's Health | Sexually Transmitted Infection Prevention

For Sexually Transmitted Infections, Young People are at Higher Risk

Article
6/13/2022
Protect yourself in the war against sexually transmitted infections. If you have questions about where to find free condoms, STI testing, or treatment, contact your health care provider or local installation clinic.

Every year, thousands of service members are diagnosed with at least one sexually transmitted infection. Topping the list of the most common are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and genital herpes, military health data shows.

Recommended Content:

Sexually Transmitted Infection Prevention | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Men's Health | Women's Health

Hernias: What Every Service Member Should Know

Article
6/11/2021
Military personnel performing a bench press

Hernias are common. What you need to know about diagnosing, treating, and preventing hernias

Recommended Content:

Men's Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Men's Health

Men’s health focus on the mental, physical & emotional health aspects

Article
6/8/2021
Military personnel during physical training

Screenings and regular check-ups help keep you mission ready.

Recommended Content:

Men's Health | Men's Health | Psychological Fitness

Be proactive in looking for early signs of testicular cancer

Article
4/9/2021
Military health personnel giving and examination

While the diagnosis of cancer can be frightening, testicular cancer can usually be cured.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Men's Health | April | Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention

DOD initiatives address the sexual health of our military

Article
2/17/2021
Image of a bacterium

STIs are important to identify and treat because they can impact service members’ health and readiness, as well as their ability to perform their duties.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Men's Health | Women's Health | Sexually Transmitted Infection Prevention

Special care given to families experiencing stillbirth or infant loss

Article
10/23/2020
A couple standing in front of a wall covered in notes

The cot is specially designed to give parents extra time with their baby.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Children's Health | Men's Health
Showing results 1 - 7 Page 1 of 1
Refine your search
Last Updated: August 16, 2021

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.