U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Skip to main content
Return to topReturn to top

Annual Report the Surgeon General United States Army Fiscal Year 1959


This report covers the major activities and accomplishments of the Army Medical Service during the period from 1 July 1958 through 30 June 1959. Since I did not assume the position of The Surgeon

General until 1 June 1959, most of these activities and accomplishments occurred during the administration of my predecessor, Maj. Gen. S. B. Hays.

From its origin in 1775, the Army Medical Service's primary mission has been 'to conserve the fighting strength'-that is, to keep the soldier fit for combat or other emergency and to return him to duty as soon as possible after illness or injury. The Medical Service performs this mission in various ways. It attempts to select individuals who are healthy when they enter the Army. Through the use of preventive measures, it strives to keep them healthy. When they become sick or are injured, it restores them to good health as quickly as possible through the application of the most advanced therapeutics. Further, it maintains the effectiveness of the Army through the appropriate disposition of those who are disabled or chronically ill.

That this mission was accomplished in fiscal year 1959 is evidenced by the records which show that the Army was in an excellent state of health and that the noneffective rate for troops was the lowest on record for any single year. One important reason for this was the continued improvement in the quality of patient care provided. This steady improvement has been possible because the Army, largely through extensive residency and other postgraduate professional training programs, has been able to attract and retain increasing numbers of exceptionally competent professional personnel. The practice of medicine in the Army today is highly specialized, and even greater specialization is inevitable as the frontiers of science and medicine continue to advance.

Army psychiatrists continued to strengthen and expand their efforts to prevent noneffectiveness among personnel because of psychiatric reasons, with the result that admissions to Army hospitals for psychiatric disorders declined to a new low rate, and there was a reduction of more than 50 percent in the military prisoner population in disciplinary barracks. Progress was also made in clarifying and making more realistic the medical fitness standards for appointment, enlist?

ment, induction, and retention of Army personnel. Greater attention was devoted during the year to the task of providing better protection for personnel against the dangers from the constantly growing sources of ionizing radiation as well as from other health hazards arising from the increasing complexity of nuclear weapons and industrial development.

Two significant changes in organization were made during the fiscal year. One of these, the appointment of a Special Assistant to The Surgeon General for Combat Development and the formation of a Combat Development Group, is of vital importance in carrying out the other basic mission of the Army Medical Service-that of being prepared in the event of a national emergency or a war. The other major change was the creation of the Army Medical Research and Development Command for the purpose of achieving more effective participation, coordination, and control of all Army medical research and development activities. Under this new command, the Army Medical Service entered the field of bioastronautics and played an important role in the first successful flight into space of living primates, a historic event which might well be termed a prelude to space medicine.

These and many other achievements and activities are discussed in this narrative report, which also sets forth the important changes in policies and procedures that were made during the fiscal year in carrying out the missions of the Army Medical Service.


Lieutenant General,

The Surgeon General.