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The Navy goes about its efforts for the health and welfare of the
men in practical fashion. The health of sailors is the job of the
Surgeon General of the Navy, and the prevention and control of
venereal disease infections is in charge of the Bureau of Medicine
and Surgery. Welfare, recreation and athletics are the responsibility
of the Bureau of Navigation, especially of the Sixth Division. 2

The Navy invites and depends on the cooperation, wherever feasible,
of voluntary agencies to supplement official efforts for sailor health
and welfare. Chief among voluntary organizations thus aiding are
the Navy Relief Society and the American Red Cross. The activities
of the Joint Army and Navy Committee on Welfare and Recreation,
and the Citizen's Committee for Army and Navy are also important
in the health and welfare program.


1 'From whatever viewpoint considered," says Captain Charles
S. Stephenson, head of the Division of Preventive Medicine of the
Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, "the venereal diseases present the
largest preventive medicine problem confronting the military surgeon.
They surpass in magnitude and administrative significance all other
communicable diseases. ' ' 3

Navy figures convincingly illustrate this statement. Year after
year, syphilis and gonorrhea stand in the medical reports as chief
causes of disability among sailors and marines, second only to common
colds as causes of sickness, and by far the greatest single cause of
days lost from duty.

Nevertheless, as definitely indicated by the admission rates and
noneffective ratios per thousand men from 1900 to 1940, venereal
diseases among naval personnel have steadily declined since an over-
all program of prevention, diagnosis and treatment, social leisure
time activities and recreation was adopted some years prior to the
first World War. The decline has been especially striking during
1941, when, according to a recent statement by Rear Admiral Ross T.
Mclntire, Surgeon General of the Navy, ' ' the morbidity rate . . . was
seven per cent lower than in 1940, while the rate of syphilis is lower
than at any time during the past forty years. ' ' He adds : ' ' This is
not enough for us, however, and we will continue to find some means
of lowering this rate."

On the medical side, the Navy begins at the beginning by refusing
for enlistment in the Navy and Marine Corps any applicants infected
from syphilis or gonorrhea, and carries on with a vigorous endeavor
to keep those who are accepted free from these diseases. By education,
precept and example, the sailor is taught the immediate and lasting

2 Except for welfare and recreation activities of the Marine Corps, which are
under separate direction.

s JOURNAL OP SOCIAL HYGIENE, 26:402. How Can Citizens Help to Protect
Soldiers and Sailors from Syphilis and Gonorrhea: From the Viewpoint of
the Navy.


values of a clean life and learns the strength that comes from self-
discipline. Over and over again the medical service stresses the
hazards of syphilis and gonorrhea by every means possible. The
sailor hears lectures, he watches movies, 4 placards and posters meet
his eye at various strategic points on the ship. Every effort is made
to appeal to his intelligence and his ideals, and he is repeatedly
warned against the prostitute who provides the chief source of the
venereal diseases which may incapacitate him at a time when he is
most needed for the defense of his country. He is also warned
against the so-called "amateur" the girl on the street, not a pro-
fessional prostitute, who likes a man in uniform. The danger is
double here because she often "looks so nice," and the sailor "falls
for her" when he might not for the more hardened exponent of
"the business."

For those who are not prevented by education and example from
taking chances of exposure to disease, the Navy maintains a well-
organized system of prevention and early treatment facilities. A
packet of chemicals with instructions for use is available to men
going ashore, and early treatment stations are an integral part of
every liberty party. Every ship, every Naval station, every activity
from the smallest post to a large naval yard has its prophylactic
station. Wherever the Fleet puts into port a shore patrol is estab-
lished, the medical members of which devote the greater portion of
their time to the maintenance of the patrol's prophylactic stations:
on the docks, in the Y.M.C.A., police stations, in all the places where
experience has shown the men will tend to congregate. The location
of such stations is distributed throughout the Fleet in order that all
men can take advantage of this protection.

If infection occurs, the man is not punished unless he endeavors
to conceal his infection or absents himself without permission while
on the treatment list. He does still lose his pay when incapacitated
as a result of venereal disease and he is, of course, if infected immedi-
ately placed under prompt and effective treatment which soon renders
him non-infectious and usually able to carry on his usual duties.
Keeping the principles of physician-patient relationship and profes-
sional confidence uppermost in mind, the naval doctor does not limit
treatment to the officer or enlisted man who may become infected, but
endeavors to protect the man's family as well. With skilful and
painstaking human understanding family contacts are brought in
wherever possible and properly watched to see that the disease does
not spread in the home.

Control of venereal infection is not limited to the force trained for
battle. The ships of the Fleet are put together by trained artisans,
i.e., the Civil Service personnel. The United States Navy is a gigantic
business, its industrial ramifications spread into every form of con-
structive enterprise. The care of ships is maintained in part by men

4 The United States Navy within the past ten years has purchased numerous
prints of the American Social Hygiene Association films Science and Modern
Medicine, With These Weapons, and others for showing on shipboard.


A library on ship board.



In a Navy Yard Library.



n radio

A quiz contest on a seaplane tender


Below decks


Top side "




hired by the Navy, men who are not blue- jackets. All men applying
for this work are given rigid examinations, not necessarily to protect
the public treasury from future pensions, but to aid in the preven-
tion of further venereal infections; for any such condition is cause
for rejection until satisfactory cure has been established.

The Navy, like the Army, is keenly aware of the necessity of
civilian cooperation to protect the armed forces from loss of man-
power and efficiency from the attack of the venereal diseases. Cap-
tain Joel T. Boone, Medical Corps, U. S. Navy, recently said:
"The military physician can treat the victim of venereal disease.
He cannot, except in a small measure, protect him. When a military
man becomes infected we restrict him to his ship or naval activity,
to prevent contact with the civilian community. Thus we in the
military protect the community. Does the community protect the
military from infection? His protection must come from civilian
action and vigilance. In the community is the source where venereal
disease control must originate. We in the military will give what
assistance is possible. Your duty is clear. Will you can you meet
this challenge?" 5

To quote Admiral Mclntire's recent statement further, he says:
"It is generally recognized that the chief source of venereal disease
in the Services is commercialized prostitution. Both commercialized
prostitution and quackery are evils, the roots of which lie deeply
imbedded among civilian elements of the population. Normally,
under our democratic system, military authorities have no control
over the civilian population. Commercialized prostitution is a large
scale racket somewhat similar in scope to the "bootlegging" racket
of prohibition days. Its ramifications include a long list of hangers-on
who seek to derive profit from the prostitute and her patron. This
racket is designed to prey upon the uninitiated. Its ill-gotten gains
are derived by attempting to exploit the baser side of human nature.
Its patrons are chiefly the gullible and immature youths with idle
time on their hands. It flourishes or is stamped out according to the
attitude of local police and health authorities, and these in turn are
influenced by local public opinion. If local opinion is willing to tol-
erate prostitution, it will remain.

"In the Navy and Marine Corps, it can be shown that the greatest
incidence of venereal disease occurs among men in their first enlist-
ment and particularly during the first two years of their service.
Since the average age at first enlistment is 19.8 years, it is evident
that most venereal infections are acquired while the men are relatively
less mature, young, inexperienced, easily led, and not fully adjusted
to military life. Observations indicate that these men are not inher-
ently inclined towards exposing themselves to venereal disease, and
that given choice, they would much prefer wholesome feminine com-
pany. In many localities this is lacking, or the men in uniform are
actually discriminated against. Combine with this the wartime

5 An address delivered before the Eegional Conference on Social Hygiene at
Los Angeles, Calif., Feb. 5, 1941. JOURNAL OF SOCIAL HYGIENE, 27:113.


activity in a Navy port; overcrowding of the civilian population;
insufficient wholesome diversions ; overtaxing of local police and public
health facilities, and an attitude of indifference towards prostitution,
and conditions become favorable for the prostitution racket to flourish
at its worst. This is especially true if local police facilities are insuffi-
cient or if civil authorities assume an attitude of tolerance towards
it" 6

The Navy, as one of the agencies participating in the Joint Agree-
ment of May, 1940, and as one of the departments with power through
the Secretary of the Navy to enforce the May Act putting questionable
areas in the vicinity of naval stations out of bounds for sailor per-
sonnel, has these problems keenly in mind and depends heavily on
civilian cooperation to back up official efforts to keep Navy health and
morale at a high pitch.


Four days after the signing of the Armistice ending the first World
War on November 11, 1918, the Navy prepared to take over the work
done by the Navy Department Commission on Training Camp activi-
ties. Since no organization for this purpose existed in the Navy
Department, the Sixth Division of the Bureau of Navigation, now
known as the Welfare and Recreation Section of the Training Divi-
sion, was set up and charged with the development of athletics, enter-
tainment, music, religion, and education and to cooperate with civilian
authorities in matters affecting naval personnel, including the organ-
ization of communities to serve sailor welfare through existing organ-
izations; to reach the homes of the sailors and to open homes of the
civilian population in those ports visited by the ships of the navy.

The navy defines the mission of the Section as follows :
"To aid constituted authorities to maintain a high morale," and
the following statement describes its standards :

"Condition is to the athlete's body what morale is to the mind. Morale is
condition; good morale is good condition of the inner man; it is the state of
will in which you can get most from the machinery, deliver blows with the
greatest effect, take blows with the least depression, and hold out for the longest
time. It is both fighting power and staying power, and strength to resist the
mental infections which fear, discouragement and fatigue bring with them. It is
the perpetual ability to come back."

For nearly twenty-five years, then, the United States Navy has
included special activities directed toward these ends as an integral
part of its program for training and conditioning men.

Apart from the natural stress placed upon such subjects as discipline
and naval tradition the Section relies heavily on education, athletics,
and recreation as morale-builders.

8 An address presented at the Tenth Annual Regional Conference on Social
Hygiene in New York City.


Vocational education in the form of trade schools for many years
has been developed to a great extent in the Navy. The technical and
mechanical training which the sailor receives as a part of his educa-
tion for manning his ship is of course basic and of permanent value
whether in the Navy or in civilian life. He may, however, also take
up such aspects of scholastic education as his 24-hour duty day will
permit. The ship 's library is at his disposal and many a man finishes
his term of service in possession of a much greater store of knowledge
than when he began. A feature of education is his participation,
either in preparation or by attentive reading of his ship or station
newspaper it may be but a couple of mimeographed sheets, but the
blue-jacket or marine takes great pride in it. From these on up to
the magazine, Our Navy, written by and for all Navy men, the power
of the printed word is great among sailors.

The educational activities of the Section also include active
cooperation in health education, particularly against the venereal
diseases, with the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. Emphasis is
placed on the desirability of avoiding syphilis and gonorrhea as a
duty toward future wives and children.

Traditional in the Navy is its prowess in sports of all kinds. Ship
or station teams are encouraged, with the idea of having every man
engage in .some type of healthful sport and in competitive athletics.
Officers who are or have been athletes in one or another aspect of
sport during their Naval career direct the games and competitions. 7
In these sports competition is high for the medals, belts and cups
which are available as prizes for achievement in sports.

Eecreation in the Navy's opinion comes midway between athletics
as the exercise of the body, and education, the exercise of the mind.
In normal times and even in these strenuous days, the sailor in his
free time may read, drawing on his ship or shore station library.
Lectures, both educative and entertaining, are provided, and his
instruction in technical matters by means of motion pictures is sup-
plemented by the latest film dramas from Hollywood and often by his
own efforts at drama, the ever popular quiz contest, or other amuse-
ments. All of these recreational methods are often combined to sup-
plement the most intriguing of all Navy recreation, ''seeing the
world." As the Fleet voyages to far-off countries, lectures, library
and motion pictures combine to prepare the men in advance as to
the principal points of interest in the ports they are about to visit,
including the history, customs and amusements of the particular
city. The service worked out in cooperation with the consular service
of the United States is particularly valuable to the man who wants
to learn as well as see.

Right now, morale is particularly high in the Navy because of
the chance for advancement through new ships constantly going into

7 In present expansion of Navy personnel, Commander Gene Tunney, former
heavyweight boxing champion has been designated as in charge of the Navy's
physical training program.


commission, with promotions thereby created for men in the rating
their complements call for. The two-ocean Navy affords many oppor-
tunities for promotion. Our Navy says: "Any ambitious, intelligent
enlisted man can advance himself much faster than has ever been
possible before, if he works hard."


The Congress of the United States and the Articles of the Gov-
ernment, in addition to Naval Regulations, provide for the religious
needs of the Naval Service, and the Navy has always counted heavily
upon religion as a dominant force in the building of morale. At least
seventy-five per cent of the Navy personnel have been raised in a
rather strict religious atmosphere at home. The Bureau of Navigation
provides for the religious influence and emphasizes the moral aspects
of clean living and clean thinking motivated by religious teachings
as a valuable asset in the armed forces of the Naval Service.

The duties of a Navy Chaplain are primarily religious. There
are additional duties, however, which fall to the lot of a Navy Chaplain
that are not the privileged responsibility of the average civilian
clergyman. Apart from the distinctively religious work of divine wor-
ship, baptism, marriages, funerals, Sunday School Classes, Bible
Classes, religious instruction, there is, in addition, the visitation of
the sick and the imprisoned, conferences, consultations, letter-
writing, etcetera.

In addition to the foregoing, the Chaplain has supervision of ship
or station libraries, assists with educational activities, all phases of
athletics, and recreation parties ; he may supervise sightseeing parties,
and entertainments, and generally handles ship's dances, and Christ-
mas parties. He may be the editor or supervise the ship or station
paper. He cooperates as liaison with all social and welfare organiza-
tions ashore. His work in conjunction with the Navy Relief Society
is closely tied up with individual needs particularly as it relates to
dependent families. This Navy Relief work covers a wide sociological
field sickness, hospitalization, and domestic problems for Naval fam-
ilies and dependents. Hence, the Chaplain must exemplify the spirit
of tolerance and charity and show a keen interest in youth and the
religious and social welfare, not only of the personnel concerned, but
all the families likewise.

There is no limiting influence placed on the Chaplain's work as a
clergyman in the Naval Service. The limits of the Chaplain's en-
deavors are dictated by common sense and interlock with all profes-
sional classes from law to medicine. He cooperates with the Red Cross
which necessarily is limited to problems of transportation and inves-
tigation of dependents, etc., in view of the major burden of dependent
families' needs and hospitalization being handled by the Navy Relief
Society, and in view of the Navy's effort for a number of years to
care for its own.


Naval Chaplains minister to Naval forces afloat and ashore, which
includes Bluejackets, U. S. Marine forces, Aviation Units, Naval
hospitals, and Coast Guard personnel. Naval Chaplains are assigned
to each large command of the fleet, such as battleships, carriers, cruis-
ers, transports, and the mother ships attached to destroyers or sub-
marines. Needless to say, Navy Yards, Air Stations, and Training
Stations, and various other commands ashore have their quota of
Chaplains assigned with due regard to the religious needs of the many

"Whether at sea or ashore", the Chief of Navy Chaplains, Capt.
R. D. Workman, said recently, "the Navy Chaplain is the busiest of
men and one of the strongest influences in the Naval Service. ' '


As America builds the greatest Navy in her history and
a vast fleet of merchant ships, the principle is kept constantly
in mind give a good ship a good crew and they work together,
but the best ship is of no use with an ill-trained, slack crew.
For maintenance of the highest degree of fitness and morale,
the Navy looks to those who conduct its social hygiene
activities, and who, history and experience declare, will not
fail in this most important of crises.

"Our confidence in the survival of civilization in this crucial year of
1942 rests on the power ... to turn out more guns and tanks and planes
and ships. . . . Yet we cannot forget that there must be a man behind the
gun and a man behind the machine that makes the gun. Trained and
coordinated manpower is after all the ultimate rock upon which success
must be built. In the health, the vigor, the efficiency of the people lies
the basic assurance of victory."


Chairman, Editorial Board

Journal of Social Hygiene

from Survey Graphic Fitness for Freedom Number



"We must do each essential job as it appears if we are to
win the war. We must give human needs priority if we are
to win the peace."

Surgeon General, United States Public Health Service

Today, with the Four Horsemen in their saddles, galloping
relentlessly over the universe, the forces of public health
and social welfare are faced with countless new challenges
and opportunities. In no field is this more evident than in
that of social hygiene, particularly in the health sector, which
seeks to bring under control and ultimately to eliminate
syphilis, gonorrhea, and the other less known venereal infec-
tions. The two Federal organizations largely responsible
for official leadership in the civilian phases of this task are
the United States Public Health Service and the Social
Protection Section, both administratively under the aegis of
the Federal Security Agency.

Prior to World War Number One, there was no Division of Venereal
Diseases in the United States Public Health Service, nor was there
the comprehensive system of state, county and local official venereal
disease bureaus and services that now are available. The American
Social Hygiene Association was just beginning its work of informing
the public and consulting with governmental agencies in planning a
united program. Then came the draft, and even with the less effec-
tive diagnostic measures available in 1917 for the discovery of infected
draftees, a great multitude of disabled men were disclosed. It was
recognized then as now that "the venereal diseases constituted the
most serious public health problem in the development of the national
defense program." Congress in 1938 created the U. S. Interdepart-
mental Social Hygiene Board, providing as a part of this legislation
the Division of Venereal Disease in the United States Public Health
Service, and made an appropriation of $4,000,000 for these purposes
including assistance to the States in establishing and maintaining
more adequate venereal disease control facilities and services than had
previously existed. Though following demobilization in 1919 and
1920, momentum was lost, especially through limitations of appropria-
tions, the basic framework was maintained in the Federal Public



Health Service and in many of the state and community health depart-
ments. Through many "lean years" this small official force and the
voluntary social hygiene agencies in the states and communities kept
the flame of public interest alive pending an opportunity for this
movement again to sweep the country as it did in 1917-18, with
government and the people working together to stamp out syphilis
and gonorrhea, and to promote effective social protection.

This chance came in 1936 when the challenging pronouncements
and aggressive official leadership of Surgeon General Thomas Parran,
Assistant Surgeon General R. A. Vonderlehr and the state health
authorities, backed by the steady and continuous educational work
of the voluntary social hygiene societies, began to receive widespread
attention, especially in the newspapers and magazines, hitherto largely
closed as a channel of public education. The press and the public
joined with, the health and social agencies in supporting Congressional
passage of the LaFollette-Bulwinkle Act in 1938. This outstanding
legislation and appropriations to implement it, beginning at three
million and now rising above eight million dollars annually, have
provided venereal disease control activities which were of constantly
growing effectiveness in times of peace, and of inestimable value now
that a second, and more widespread, "World" war is upon us.

Soon after the President declared the first "limited emergency"

Online LibraryAmerican Social Hygiene AssociationJournal of social hygiene (Volume 28) → online text (page 5 of 71)