Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
These Are The Disgusting Conditions That Hospitalized 29 Recruits At A Marine Corps Boot Camp
Marine Corps boot camp is considered one of the most difficult basic training programs of the U.S. military. From the moment new recruits arrive to the day they graduate as Marines, they face grueling physical and mental challenges that are designed to drive them to their limits and beyond.
But when 29 recruits were admitted to the hospital last year, doctors in the Navy Preventive Medicine Department at Naval Medical Center San Diego knew something wasn't right.
So they called in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which led a joint investigation to determine the cause of the recruits' shocking symptoms, which ranged from stomach cramps and nausea to bloody diarrhea and seizures — symptoms that were life-threatening in some cases.
In the investigation report obtained by Business Insider, the CDC highlights a number of problems at Marine boot camp that heightened the risk and severity of an outbreak.
Food service company Sodexo comes under fire
In August 2018, attorneys for three former Marines filed lawsuits against food service company Sodexo that prepares meals for recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, one of the two sites where enlistees enter the Corps' 13-week boot camp. Court filings describe the tragic consequences faced by the recruits, all three of whom were ultimately discharged due to their medical conditions caused by the outbreak.
The lawsuits allege that Sodexo is responsible for the source of the E. Coli, and claims that food service staff served undercooked ground meat to the Marines. While the CDC report does not identify the source of the outbreak with 100% certainty, inspectors reported they observed unsafe meal preparation procedures, some of which violate FDA and California Department of Public Health standards.
The CDC's trace back procedure led inspectors to ground beef as the most likely source. During the investigation, inspectors noted that while food service staff periodically checked the temperature of ground meat while cooking, they did not utilize standard cooking times.
Posted cooking temperature guides were inconsistent with food industry standards, the report indicates. The guides, observed during the inspection, directed employees to cook ground beef at 155 F—but did not provide a minimum cooking time at that temperature.
The California Department of Public Health recommends that ground meat should cook at that temperature for a minimum of 15 seconds.
Despite the posted signs, CDC inspectors noted that some food service employees were unaware of appropriate cooking temperatures and times. The inspectors honed in on these unsafe practices after Marines indicated in questionnaires and interviews that it was common to encounter "grossly undercooked" food. The Marines noted that on several occasions, drill instructors would tell recruits to throw away food that appeared unsafe.
The recruiting depot says its staff moved quickly to remedy some issues. According to MCRD San Diego spokesman Steven Posy, the recruits' mess hall is now inspected weekly. Training staff oversee their recruits' dining and can report discrepancies to the Mess Hall Manager. Posy also said the staff meets weekly with Sodexo management, and conduct weekly inspections of the recruits' dining facility.
Sodexo spokesman Enrico Dinges declined to comment on the CDC report, citing ongoing litigation.
The CDC's unsurprising finding: Marine boot camp is gross
Marine boot camp isn't known for giving its recruits the royal treatment.
Recruits are expected to re-stock their own bathrooms and rarely do so the CDC report states. Investigators' notes show that during interviews, recruits said they often ran out of toilet paper, sometimes leaving them with no choice but to use their hands.
They also often ran out of soap and paper towels, rendering it impossible to properly wash and dry their hands. According to the CDC's advertised hand-washing techniques, these steps are critical to helping prevent the spread of germs and disease.
Marine spokesman Posy wrote that since the outbreak, training staff has reinforced efforts to ensure these supplies remain stocked and emphasize the importance of hygiene. He also said that although the illnesses "prompted remedial measures," the depot has consistently stressed the importance of hand-washing and that the Marines "remain committed to the health and welfare of our recruits."
Read more from Business Insider:
- One of the pioneers of the Navy SEALs just died
- Facebook has discovered an Iranian influence campaign that was followed by more than 1 million people
- The Navy is still struggling with its newest aircraft carriers, but now it wants to drop $26 billion on the next 2
- More F-35s are being grounded for inspections because of new problems with 2 parts
- Russia says a U.S. Navy spy plane led a drone swarm to attack its base in Syria
Two military bases in Florida and one in Arizona will see heat indexes over 100 degrees four months out of every year if steps aren't taken to reduce carbon emissions, a new study warns.
This Veterans Day, two post-9/11 veterans-turned congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation to have a memorial commemorating the Global War on Terrorism built on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Between 500 and 600 U.S. troops are expected to remain in Syria when all is said and done, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley said on Sunday.
Milley's comments on ABC News' "This Week" indicate the U.S. military's footprint in Syria will end up being roughly half the size it was before Turkey invaded Kurdish-held northeast Syria last month.
Democratic contender and Navy vet Pete Buttigieg pledges to create better, more 'veteran-centric' VA
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — On Veterans Day, Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg is proposing a "veteran-centric" Department of Veterans Affairs that will honor the service of the men and women of the military who represent "the best of who we are and what we can be."
Buttigieg, who served as a Navy intelligence officer in Afghanistan, said service members are united by a "shared commitment to support and defend the United States" and in doing so they set an example "for us and the world, about the potential of the American experiment."
Democratic contender Bernie Sanders vows to rebuild the VA and improve healthcare services for veterans
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders promised on Monday to boost healthcare services for military veterans if he is elected, putting a priority on upgrading facilities and hiring more doctors and nurses for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
To mark Monday's Veterans Day holiday honoring those who served in the military, Sanders vowed to fill nearly 50,000 slots for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals at facilities run by Veterans Affairs during his first year in office.
Sanders also called for at least $62 billion in new funding to repair, modernize and rebuild hospitals and clinics to meet what he called the "moral obligation" of providing quality care for those who served in the military.