A historic meeting for the revitalization of the Medical Cadet Corps (MCC) program took place during a special training session held in Levittown, Puerto Rico, from April 30 to May 3, 2018. The meeting provided special training for MCC officers who are currently involved in the program across the North American and Inter-American divisions, as well as initiating other leaders who are interested in reviving the MCC in their regions.
“The MCC program originally helped Adventist servicemen serve according to their conscience,” said World Service Organization–General Conference (WSO-GC) director Mario Ceballos. MCC cadets are trained and equipped to provide spiritual comfort, and other services such as first aid during emergency situations, explained Ceballos.
“In today’s world, many countries no longer have a draft, and although we never know when world events could lead to a reinstatement of conscription, it is best to prepare our young adults,” said Ceballos. MCC training also equips cadets, ages 17 and older, to serve in their local communities in times of disaster. “Their assistance during these types of events fosters goodwill with residents and provides help in time of need.”
An 84-Year-Old Initiative
The Medical Cadet Corps was originally launched on January 8, 1934, on the Union College campus in Lincoln, Nebraska, United States, under the leadership of Everett Dick, a professor at Union and a World War I veteran. Training followed the approach used for training medics in the US Army and included close-order drill, Army organizational structure, physical training, military courtesy, camp hygiene, litter drill, and first aid.
The Army soon recognized the value of soldiers who had received this type of training and often placed them in positions of leadership and authority within their unit.
The vision of training young men for non-combatant service caught on and other Adventist colleges adopted the program. At the 1939 Autumn Council held in Lincoln, military medical training was discussed, and attendees watched a demonstration drill by the cadets. As a result of these meetings, the General Conference voted to adopt the plan of military medical training. It was named the Seventh-day Adventist Medical Cadet Corps (SDAMCC).
During the recent training week, overseen by the world church’s Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries, MCC officers attended presentations on MCC Operations and Organization, Senior Military Leadership Protocol and Ethics with WSO-North American Division assistant director Washington Johnson, and Admiral Darold Bigger, US Navy-Retired. They discussed the qualities of executive leadership and flag officer etiquette.
WSO-Atlantic Union Conference Dionisio Olivo shared lessons and the challenges that the MCC program has faced and overcome.
Moving South with a New Focus
WSO–Inter-American Division Hiram Ruiz also shared the experiences and contributions of MCC groups in the IAD since the MCCs were established in the 1950s and even decades after the organization was deactivated and was kept running regionally.
“We cannot deny the need to protect our youth and develop in them a willingness to serve in their communities,” said Ruiz, who led the MCC in Mexico while serving as youth ministries leader at Montemorelos University.
“This is all about retaking the ministry that will allow many countries to show the face of the church full of compassion in service while it prepares young people to serve in natural disasters, in civic events, all opening the door for others to learn about the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” explained Ruiz.
Ruiz said that Montemorelos University had been running the MCC training since the 1950s up to 2013 (The MCC was deactivated in North America in 1972). Groups in Colombia, Venezuela, and other countries in Inter-America continued running on their own to assist their communities. In Puerto Rico, the church has been successfully running the MCC program since 1951, explained Ruiz.
In Puerto Rico
David Sebastian, WSO–Puerto Rico Union Conference and Major General of the SDA MCC Puerto Rico division, said that the MCC is widely recognized across the island nation. It is accepted by the island’s Centro Medico Hospital, State Emergency Management Office, by International sporting events such as World’s Best 10K, Several Mental Health government agencies, the Red Cross, and others. He said it is known for their contribution through decades of assisting the community and, most recently, following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria on the island.
Numerous media outlets provided positive coverage about the work of the MCC cadets in Puerto Rico.
The MCC unit in Puerto Rico sees an average of 200 cadets enrolled in the 17 training schools from basic training, first responders, community service, and school of instructors.
“Even though young cadets are not called to serve in the military, the effort of this organization moves with more emphasis in the spiritual life, civic life, community service to assist in the well-being of communities, after natural disasters and other situations serving selflessly,” said Sebastian.
The MCC groups meet regionally every week in Puerto Rico among its four church region fields and meet annually for additional training under the leadership of the union, or major church region, said Sebastian.
Upcoming Plans in Inter-America
Reviving the MCC will offer more opportunities for the young people in churches throughout Inter-America, said Ruiz. A dozen leaders traveled from countries in the IAD for the special MCC training and implementation will follow during the next six months in Costa Rica, Honduras, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico, and other islands across the Caribbean, said Ruiz.
“We are excited because our territory is ready to embrace and revitalize the Medical Cadet Corps program,” said Ruiz, who said that the church’s executive body took an action to revive the Cadets across Inter-America recently. “Every year we face more and more crises.”
He is confident about the future use of the program across the region. “We do have the resources to support our communities in case of disasters,” he said.