Personal Hygiene in the Military

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The topic of personal hygiene is one of the most controversial yet crucial topics that applies to all and sundry. It encompasses the basic cleanliness routines of hand and body wash, cleanliness of clothes, footwear and other personal effects that surround an individual such beddings and towels. It is expected that each and every individual regardless of age, sex, profession, social class and culture lives in a hygienic manner not only for their sake but also for that of the people around them.

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Military personnel play quite an important role in the defense and protection of their jurisdictions and most of the time put their lives on the line in service of their respective nations. It is important to note that most of these military officers are deployed in areas with harsh conditions hence making it very difficult for them to maintain a high standard of hygiene as compared to when they stay in their normal non-deployment residential areas.

Some of the common deployment zones are extreme and usually include very cold alpine conditions, very hot desert areas, those with no water supply and regions that are unfavorable to basic cleanliness such as taking regular showers, maintaining a regular change of clothes and keeping sleeping quarters clean. In some harsh weather, unexpected rainfall can soak soldier encampments while in other scenarios the soldiers may even be living in defensive bunkers which make it difficult for them to carry out practices such as regular washing of garment cloths and body parts and proper drying techniques. The result is that most soldier garrisons have unfavorable stench with the soldiers characteristically exhibiting poor personal hygiene. Congestion is also a key factor that contributes to poor personal hygiene as soldiers in overcrowded facilities are likely to be infected with communicable respiratory, alimentary and dermatologic diseases.

Basic hygiene practices involve the proper drying of moist surfaces since they might attract bacterial and fungal infections. The main reason behind this is that most microbes reproduce in moist environments hence spreading infections. Military personnel are advised to properly wash and dry specific body parts due to their susceptible nature. Emphasis lies on: genital areas, feet, between thighs, armpits and between the buttocks. Talcum powder is advisable for use in places where wetness is a problem such as between the thighs and under the breast in females. Loose fitted clothing should thus be worn so as to ensure adequate ventilation. Nylon and silk undergarments should not be worn in humid environments (Headquarters, Department of The Army and Commandant, Marine Corps, 41).

Casualty rates are also reduced by proper personal hygiene among soldiers in combat regions. Most warfare zones have poor sanitation conditions hence high probability of mortality when a soldier is wounded during battle. It is a common occurrence that medical supplies are limited in nature due to the strained capability to deliver and replenish used medical supplies. As such, wounded soldiers may develop septic wounds that are easily contaminated if they do not maintain proper personal hygiene. Normally, it is common practice to take regular showers and change beddings, bandages and clothes all in a bid to ensure fast recovery and save the lives of wounded soldiers.

Studies have shown that poor personal hygiene usually results in psychological disorders as the individual is not able to focus and pay keen attention to the military mission at hand (Weyant ,9-10). An individual in such an unclean environment is easily distracted by the events going on in the environment and cannot act in pinpoint precision required of soldiers on a mission. The result is that the soldiers have a high probability of making mistakes that are very costly in terms of both human life and property. The individual thus risks their own life and that of their military unit when they cannot function at peak concentration hence putting other soldiers at risk of death.

In some instances, a soldier with poor personal hygiene is likely to be easily irritable and hence little provocation can degenerate into a violent confrontation with their colleagues. The ensuing bad blood usually manifests as arguments, brawls and even fights among soldiers who are on the same team and are tasked with accomplishing a planned mission. Such negativity hinders cohesion among soldiers and this impairs teamwork and their ability to achieve success in their planned objectives.

A military unit is likely to isolate a soldier whom they deem unhygienic and sideline such an individual making them feel not listened to and not part of the team. Therefore, it is expected that such an individual does not feel part of the close knit military unit and the stigma drives them to become loners who cannot interact properly with other team members.

From this standpoint, it is critical that soldiers maintain clean surroundings and sanitation of items that they use in their day to day lives. One cannot overlook the importance of personal hygiene on the saving of soldiers lives from contaminable wounds and equally important on cohesion within their military teams and units.

Works Cited

BIBLIOGRAPHY Headquarters ,Department Of The Army And Commandant, Marine Corps . Field Hygiene And Sanitation. Washington, DC: United States Army, 2000. Electronic.

Weyant, R. "Interventions based on psychological principles improve adherence to oral hygiene instructions." J Evid Based Dent Pract. (2009): 9-10. Web.

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