Military brass hope Navy corpsmen prepare for combat by reading 'The Docs'
But for one group an exception is made: the Navy medical corpsmen who accompany them into combat.
"When a Marine goes down, there's a corpsman out there trying to save his life as he bleeds out," said Hospital Corpsman Master Chief Laura Martinez.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken a toll on corpsmen: 40 killed in action, many others wounded and still more returning home with post-combat problems.
"We have folks with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury," Martinez said. "We're no different than other groups."
Now, to help corpsmen prepare for the stress and danger of deployment to Afghanistan, the Navy has developed "The Docs," a 200-page graphic novel that pulls no punches.
Developed at San Diego-based Naval Health Research Center, "The Docs" uses sharp colors, crisp drawings and realistic language to tell the stories of four fictional corpsmen deploying to Iraq during the height of the fighting.
So far, reaction among corpsmen has been positive, officials said.
"Wherever I go," said Greg Goldstein, program manager for the Marine Corps Combat & Operational Stress Control Office, "I hear guys asking for 'The Docs.'"
-- Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: "The Docs," a 200-page graphic novel meant to help prepare Navy corpsmen for combat. Credit: Navy Health Research Center