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Photo Information

Cpl. Joe Sharp, Civil Affairs Team Leader, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, cuts the hair of Sean Hernandez, a patient at Guam Memorial Hospital Skilled Nursing Unit, Sept 21. Marines and Sailors with the 31st MEU visited 30 patients at the GHM Skilled Nursing Unit to build relationships and to make a difference in the patients' lives for a day. The 31st MEU is operating on and around Guam, the westernmost territory of the U.S., conducting a Certification Exercise.

Photo by 1st Lt. Caleb Eames

31st MEU builds relationships in Guam

21 Sep 2010 | 1st Lt. Caleb Eames

Marines and Sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit visited 30 patients living at the Guam Memorial Hospital Skilled Nursing Unit, Sept. 21 to build relationships and to make a difference in the patient’s lives for a day. 

The GMH facility assists in long term rehabilitation care for patients that suffer from such tragedies as stroke, amputation or traumatic brain injury, said Melissa Hayes, head nurse, GHM Skilled Nursing Unit. 

Hayes also mentioned that the Marines’ visit helps the patients in the recovery process through interaction and stimulation.

The Marines and Sailors participated in activities with the patients including karaoke, singing and bowling.  Some of the patients even asked to have their hair cut by their military visitors.  But most of the service members found simply spending time with the patients was the most enjoyable form of therapy.

“It was awesome to be able to come here and talk with the patients, and very humbling,” said Lance Cpl. Alyssa Nye, intermediate radio repair technician with the 31st MEU.  “I see people missing limbs, not being able to get around, and it makes me thankful for what I have.  It was a good chance to interact with local people who needed our visit.  If seeing us made their day better, it was worth it."

The Marines and Sailors visited the rehabilitation center on the same day that the record of decision was signed in Washington, D.C. regarding a future military buildup on Guam.  Over the coming years, thousands of Marines are scheduled to be relocated from Okinawa to the westernmost U.S. territory.

There has been some concern on the island about the transfer of Marines to Guam, and the community must get to know about the Marines, said Dr. John Steele, Neurologist and Physician Director, GMH Skilled Nursing Unit.

“It is wonderful for the Marines to see the patients today,” said Steele. “This is a marvelous example of the community interaction between the civilian population and the military.  Even though this is just for a few hours, that is exactly what is needed to bring us together for the future."

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit