NEWS | Feb. 15, 2019

National Guard Medic Advises Soldiers at Air Assault School

By Sgt. Christopher Lindborg U.S. Army Central

Proper nutrition and a balanced diet are vital ingredients for Soldiers completing a strenuous course like the Air Assault school at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Feb. 4 to 15. 

United States Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard Monroe, a combat medic assigned to the 198th Armored Regiment, Mississippi Army National Guard, stresses to Soldiers the importance of consuming plentiful salty foods before physically strenuous events. 

Monroe’s own experiences at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, which is a hot and humid area, prepared him for his current mobilization.

“I’ve seen Soldiers go into the stage of heat stroke at Camp Shelby,” said Monroe. “It’s dangerous.”

Monroe was assigned to cover an Air Assault school from Feb. 4 to 15, 2019, at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. During day two of the school, Soldiers participated in a 6-mile ruck march. Monroe said a Soldier, who was healthy and muscular, came in from the march and was blacking out.

“His eyeballs were rolling in the back of his head,” said Monroe. “He was having muscle spasms in his legs.” 

The medics first treated the Soldier and ensured he was no longer in danger. Then Monroe, who feels his strength is teaching Soldiers to eat properly, offered the Soldier further advice to eat more salts. 

“A lot of people will tell the Soldiers to drink water but at that point you are drinking more water and you’re flushing salt,” said Monroe.

Monroe recommends Soldiers eat breakfast. He said if they don’t have access to anything but the dining facility, then they can eat more peanut butter to help sustain them during physically demanding work. 

“Peanut butter has the salts and sugars in it,” said Monroe. “It’s a superfood.”

Army Maj. Jeff Mincks, a physician assistant assigned to the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 137th Infantry Regiment out of Kansas City, Missouri, joined Monroe on the medical team covering the school.

“I really enjoy working with him,” said Mincks. “He’s done a really good job at working with the medics, keeping the schedule together, having the medics on ground when and where they’re needed to be.” 

Monroe offered further advice to Soldiers on early morning events. He recommends eating foods on the go, for example a pop tart. 

“Look, you have to eat salts,” said Monroe. “Your heart and all your muscles run by salts, sodium, and potassium and if you deplete them then your heart is going to stop.”

Monroe grew up watching MASH, a show about an Army hospital staff set in the Korean War who used laughter as the best way to deal with their situation.
“I was watching MASH and thought I’d want to be a doctor,” said Monroe. 

Monroe, who is the non-commissioned officer in charge of the medics assigned to the school, explained how the school and events within it are staffed. He said there are four medics assigned to a school this size. The school started with 240 students. Each event is staffed according to physical layout and the likelihood of injuries. 

“Two medics can’t cover all the way to the other side of the base,” said Monroe, referring to the school’s 6-mile ruck march. 

Monroe said students take solace in knowing the medics are present. 

“I’ve seen one injured in each event,” said Monroe. “The time of the year is nice, but you don’t know how bad something like this can get.” 

Standard operating procedure requires two medics on hand and four medics for major events. There are seven medics assigned to this school.

“They’ve been happy about that,” said Monroe. 

Monroe plans to stay committed to leading his medics and offering eating advice to Soldiers.

“He’s great at having medics for all the training and everything going on every day,” said Mincks. “He’s done a good job at coordinating as well.”