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Hefty petty officer calls Navy unfair

At 5-foot-3 and 174 pounds, Petty Officer 1st Class Marlene O'Rosco knew she was overweight by Navy standards: She exceeded the Navy's 33 percent body-fat standard three times in four years. Unless she could drop some weight, officials told her, she would be discharged.

With only 2 1/2 years left until retirement, O'Rosco, 37, was eager to correct the problem and took an unconventional step -- she made a plan to have breast-reduction surgery Sept. 22. Doctors said the procedure would take eight pounds off her chest, make exercise possible again and help her meet the Navy's weight requirement.

Then O'Rosco, an administrative clerk at the Surface Warfare Development Group in Virginia Beach, learned she was being processed for a discharge.

She blames injuries that made exercise difficult but also ``double standards,'' which she says allow overweight commissioned officers to remain. ``We have a 300-pound officer at my command today,'' O'Rosco said. ``Officers have a different set of standards.''

Lt. Cmdr. Milan Pastuovic agrees. The 253-pound oral and facial surgeon at Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital in North Carolina has failed the Navy's body-fat test seven times in a row. ``They're not enforcing the policy consistently,'' said Pastuovic.

Cmdr. John Singley, speaking for the Atlantic Fleet's Surface Force, said he could not comment except to say: ``She failed to meet the Navy's physical-readiness-program standards. She's been given every opportunity under the program to meet those standards.''