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AMEDD Corps History > Medical Specialist > Publication

Part III



The Early Years of the Corps, April 1947 to June 1950

Colonel Emma E. Vogel, USA (Ret.),
Lieutenant Colonel Edna Lura, USA (Ret.), and
Major Helen B. Gearin, USA (Ret.)

The Women`s Medical Specialist Corps as established by Public Law 36, 80th Congress, consisted of three sections: dietitian, physical therapist, and occupational therapist. The authorized strength of the corps was determined to be in the ratio of nine-tenths of a member for every 1,000 members of the total authorized strength of the Regular Army, but not less than a minimum strength of 409 officers distributed by grade as follows: 24 in the permanent grade of major (8 for each section) and 385 in the permanent grades of captain to second lieutenant, inclusive. The distribution of officers comprising the corps was to be in accordance with the following ratio: Dietitian Section, 39 percent; Physical Therapist Section, 33 percent; and Occupational Therapist Section, 28 percent.1

The Secretary of War was empowered to appoint a chief of the corps with the rank of colonel while so serving and three assistant chiefs who would serve as chiefs of the sections of the corps in the grade of lieutenant colonel for the duration of their appointments.2 These officers would serve at his pleasure for a term not to exceed 4 years and could not be reappointed. The officers who were recommended by The Surgeon General for these appointments were selected from among officers commissioned in the permanent grade of major in the Dietitian and Physical Therapist Sections and in the permanent grade of major or captain in the Occupational Therapist Section. The law also established, for the first time, a Women`s Medical Specialist Corps Section in the Officers` Reserve Corps.


One of the first steps in implementation of Public Law 80-36 was integration into the Regular Army of interested, qualified individuals currently serving in the Medical Department. In anticipation of the passage of the law, preparation had long been in progress. In May 1946, selected dietitians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists

1Army Regulations No. 40-25, 22 Jan. 1948.
2(1) Public Law 36, 80th Congress, 1st Session, approved 16 Apr. 1947. (2) Public Law 155, 85th Congress, 1st Session, approved 21 Aug. 1957, gave The Surgeon General the authority to appoint the three assistant chiefs of the corps. The authority to appoint the chief of the corps remained with the Secretary of the Army.


were assigned to the Personnel Research Board, Adjutant General`s Office, to develop professional competency tests to be used with other tests formulated by The Adjutant General. By the time the law was passed, on 16 April 1947, preparation was completed. Screening boards to interview and evaluate the applicants were established in nine general hospitals in the United States and in certain hospitals in each of the oversea commands.

In June 1947, the Military Personnel Procurement Division, Adjutant General`s Office, arranged a 3-day conference in the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., to orient the key members of these screening boards to the procedures to be used in the integration process. At this conference,3 Brig. Gen. (later Maj. Gen.) George E. Armstrong, Deputy Surgeon General, gave a talk in which he stated that-

Public Law 36 established the Army Nurse Corps and Women`s Medical Specialist Corps in the Regular Army and provides Regular Army commissioned status * * * in these respective Corps, which had long been the desire of the Medical Department.

* * * the establishment, by public law, of these two new Corps in the Regular Army marks our first complete step in the reorganization and revitalization of the Medical Department.

He also emphasized that the mission of the Regular Army Medical Department was not only to provide care for the sick and injured of the peacetime Army, but more important, to maintain a highly qualified cadre which, in the event of a national emergency, could quickly expand.

The general provisions governing eligibility for integration into the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps were as follows:4

1. Applicant must be a female citizen of the United States who had attained the age of 21 years, but not attained the age of 45 years on the date of appointment. (The upper-age limitation was waived by the Secretary of War upon the recommendation of The Surgeon General in order to accomplish the appointment of key dietitians and physical therapists whose knowledge and experience were considered essential in the establishment of this new corps.)

2. Applicant must be in an unmarried status with no dependents under the age of 14 years.

3. Applicant must be physically qualified at the time of appointment in accordance with Army requirements.

4. Applicant must have served honorably as a dietitian, physical therapist, or occupational therapist with the Army subsequent to 7 December 1941.

5. Dietitians and physical therapists could not be appointed in a grade higher than that held while on active duty in the Army of the United States or higher than that grade to which they might be promoted prior to acceptance of Regular Army commissions.

All appointments in the Regular Army Women`s Medical Special-

3Information Folder, Army Nurse Corps and Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, Regular Army Integration Program under the provision of Public Law 36, 80th Congress, 1947.
4War Department Circular No. 113, 3 May 1947.


ist Corps were to be accomplished 1 year after the passage of Public Law 80-36. The integration program progressed slowly. Consequently, on 25 July 1947, The Adjutant General announced the extension of the deadline date to 30 November for the submission of application.5 The first applications did not reach the Surgeon General`s Office until August 1947 and the first appointments were not made until October 1947.

The number of applications for appointment was disappointing. Approximately 3,200 dietitians and physical therapists had been commissioned in the Army of the United States during World War II and approximately 900 occupational therapists had served as civilian employees--an estimated potential of 4,100, from which 486 applications were received (table 14). The poor response was believed to be caused by several reasons: (1) Lack of interest in a Regular Army career, (2) misunderstanding the responsibilities and obligations which acceptance of a Regular Army commission entailed, and (3) the

TABLE 14-Recapitulation of appointments, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, 16 April 1947 to 16 April 19481

5A completed application consisted of: (1) Report of physical examination; (2) Biographical Information Blank designed to reveal applicant`s emotional stability and personal characteristics; (3) Report of Officers Review Board indicating applicant`s potentialities as an officer; (4) Officer Evaluation Report submitted by officers under whom applicant had served; and (5) Technical Proficiency Test designed to test applicant`s professional competence.


high salaries available at that time in civil life. Of the 245 appointments tendered, only 199 were accepted by the applicants.


A new block of serial numbers was assigned to the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps by The Adjutant General. The Dietitian Section was assigned R 10,000 to R 19,999 for the Regular Army and R 20,000 upward for Reserve commissions; the Physical Therapist Section was assigned M 10,000 to M 19,999 for the Regular Army and M 20,000 upward for Reserve commissions; the Occupational Therapist Section was assigned J 1 to J 99,999 for Regular Army and J 100,000 upward for Reserve commissions. Officers previously commissioned as dietitians and physical therapists had been assigned serial numbers beginning with R 1 and M 1, respectively. Officers in these groups who accepted commissions in the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps Section of the Officers` Reserve Corps retained the serial numbers they had been assigned in the Army of the United States.6 Maj. (later Col.) Emma E. Vogel and Maj. (later Lt. Col.) Helen C. Burns7 had the distinction of being the first officers commissioned under the laws that gave relative rank and Regular Army status. As officers in the Army of the United States, they had been assigned serial numbers M1 and R1, respectively; subsequently, in the Regular Army, these numbers were changed to M 10,000, respectively.


Many hours were spent in research and conference before a final decision was reached as to the distinguishing insignia for the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps. Mr. Arthur Dubois, Heraldic Section, Research and Development Branch, Military Planning Division, Quartermaster General`s Office, recommended discarding the traditional caduceus of the Medical Department in favor of a mythological figure similar to that authorized for the Women`s Army Corps. Extensive research failed to disclose any symbol which would be appropriate for all three sections of the corps. When it was decided to use the caduceus, there was further discussion as to the letters to be superimposed. The letter "S" was suggested by Colonel Vogel. It could not be used, however, because it was still allocated to the Sanitary Corps even though this corps was no longer in existence. The insignia, black letters "W" and "S" superimposed on a silver caduceus was finally agreed upon (fig. 91), and on 22 December 1947, The Quartermaster General turned the design for this insignia over to the manufacturers for production.

6Staff Directive, Adjutant General`s Office, 14 Apr. 1948, subject: Designation of Army Serial Numbers for Army Nurse Corps and Women`s Medical Specialist Corps.
7Later Maj. Helen B. Gearin.


FIGURE 91-Insignia of Women`s Medical Specialist Corps.


FIGURE 92-Col. Emma E. Vogel, first chief of the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, receives her promotion. Left to right: Maj. Gen. Norman T. Kirk, Colonel Vogel, and Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Bliss.


Surgeon General`s Office

On 5 December 1947, Major Vogel was appointed the first chief of the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps and promoted to the grade of colonel. Because this office and those of the three assistant chiefs of the corps are statutory offices, the holders are executive officers of the United States required by the Constitution to be bound by oath or affirmation of office.8

Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Bliss, The Surgeon General, recognized this as an historic occasion and invited Maj. Gen. Norman T. Kirk, former Surgeon General, to assist him at the ceremony in which Colonel Vogel took the oath of office and received the silver eagles symbolic of her new grade (fig. 92).

The first appointment of an assistant chief of the corps was made on 20 February 1948 when Maj. Helen C. Burns took office as Chief of the Dietitian Section (fig. 93) and was promoted to the statutory grade of lieutenant colonel. She resigned on 30 June 1948 because of marriage. The second chief of the Dietitian Section, Maj. Eleanor L. Mitchell, and the first chiefs of the Physical and Occupational Therapist Sections, Maj. Edna Lura and Capt. Ruth A. Robinson, who were also assistant chiefs of the corps, took their oaths of office and were promoted to the statutory grade of lieutenant colonel on 26 August 1948 (fig. 94).

8SPJGA 1943/6745, 6 May 1943; JAGA 1951/5202, 24 Aug. 1951; JAGA 1953/1462, 16 Feb. 1953; Volume 3, Digest of Opinions, The Judge Advocates General of the Armed Forces, p. 586, Oaths and Affirmations 1.


FIGURE 93-Lt. Col. Helen C. Burns is sworn in as Chief of the Dietitian Section, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, 24 February 1948. Left to right: Brig. Gen. George E. Armstrong, Deputy Surgeon General, Colonel Burns, and Col. Howard W. Doan, MC, Executive Officer, Surgeon General`s Office.

The duties of the Chief of the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps were:9

1. Act as consultant to The Surgeon General on all administrative and general policy matters concerning the corps.

2. Based on the recommendations of the respective chiefs of the sections of the corps-

a. Recommend personnel policies and programs pertaining to procurement, training, promotion, and separation.

b. Recommend to The Surgeon General the commissioning of qualified officers for the corps.

c. Coordinate training programs for the sections comprising the corps.

d. Make recommendations on tables of organization and distribution of officers of the corps.

3. Maintain liaison with governmental agencies concerned.

4. Make inspections as required.

The duties of the three officers appointed as assistant chiefs of the corps and chiefs of the sections were as follows in reference to their own professions.

9(1) See footnote 1, p. 341. (2) Army Regulations No. 40-7, 15 Dec. 1954. (3) Army Regulations No. 40-7, 29 Oct. 1958.


FIGURE 94-The three assistant chiefs of the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps receive their promotions from The Surgeon General, 27 August 1948. Left to right: Lt. Col. Edna Lura, Lt. Col. Ruth A. Robinson, Lt. Col. Eleanor L. Mitchell, and Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Bliss. (U.S. Army photograph.)

1. Act as consultant to The Surgeon General on technical matters.

2. Formulate and recommend training programs.

3. Review news releases and articles prior to publication.

4. Recommend on tables of organization and distribution of section personnel.

5. Recommend on the formulation of personnel policies and assignments.

6. Recommend to the appropriate consultant division on matters pertaining to professional standards and procedures.

7. Maintain liaison with allied professional organizations.

8. Make technical inspections as indicated.

On 23 December 1947, The Surgeon General appointed a board of officers to make recommendations on the organization of the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps Division. Two schools of thought existed. One believed that the chief of the corps should have only administrative responsibility, while the other thought she should maintain her relationship with her professional specialty in addition to her administrative responsibility. The first was finally agreed upon, and the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps Division was established on 29 September 1948,10 almost 10 months after the appointment of the corps chief.

10Office Order No. 70, Office of The Surgeon General, U.S. Army, 29 Sept. 1948.


During the interim, Colonel Vogel had the difficult task of attempting to meet her responsibilities in face of a wide divergence of opinion as to the organization of her office. She believed that the chiefs of sections should be physically located in her office to foster corpswide identification and esprit de corps among them and thereby the members of their sections. This proposal, however, was not approved by the Chief, Personnel Division, Surgeon General`s Office.

Chart 6 shows the organization of the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps Division and the corps officers assigned to the Surgeon General`s Office during the period from December 1947 to June 1950. It does not, however, reflect the actual assignments of the chiefs of the sections within the organization of the Surgeon General`s Office.

The Chief, Physical Therapist Section and the Chief, Occupational Therapist Section were designated chiefs of their respective branches in the Physical Medicine Consultants Division. The Chief, Dietitian Section, who was Chief, Dietetics Consultant Division, until 20 September 1948 when that division was abolished, was designated Chief, Food Service Section, Domestic Operations Branch, Medical Plans and Operations Division.11

Army Headquarters

Experience during World War II proved conclusively that professional supervision and assignment of dietitians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists by consultants on an Army command level was essential to the best interests of the Medical Department. Supervisory positions which had been established for dietitians and physical therapists in the European and the Far East Command headquarters continued to be authorized in the subsequent years. After attaining commissioned status, occupational therapists were assigned in oversea hospitals and the supervising physical therapist in those commands had occupational therapists added to her sphere of administrative operation.

Assignment of officers from each section of the corps as consultants to Army area headquarters in the United States during peacetime was not thought to be desirable because of the shortage of personnel. It was the belief of the chief of the corps, however, that provision should be made for the establishment of these supervisory positions in the mobilization tables of distribution for the medical sections of the headquarters in the Continental Army Commands. In the event of an emergency which would occasion the recall of Reserve officers and necessitate extensive procurement activities, such officers assigned to area headquarters would be able to facilitate procurement and assure that assignments of Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers were appropriately made. Toward this end, on 30 March 1949 and again

11Office Order No. 66, Office of The Surgeon General, U.S. Army, 20 Sept. 1948.


CHART 6-Organization; Women`s Medical Specialist Corps Division,1 Surgeon General`s Office, December 1947-June 1950


on 11 October 1949, Colonel Vogel recommended that the mobilization tables of distribution be amended to include these positions. This was accomplished late in 1949.12

Hospital Level

While there were no changes in the professional duties of dietitians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists at the hospital level following their acceptance of Regular Army commissions, there was an obvious change of status. These officers appreciated the fact that at long last they were taking their proper place with members of other corps in the Army Medical Service and that while they would enjoy increased prestige and opportunities for professional advancement, they would also be expected to assume additional responsibilities as Regular Army officers. These added duties included assignments to serve on Regular Army interview boards, selection and medical evaluation boards, promotion boards, membership on boards for the supervision of women officers` quarters, councils for open messes, and boards of governors for officers` clubs.


After the cessation of hostilities, most of the dietitians and physical therapists were caught up in the Army-wide excitement of leaving the service and going home. From the beginning of the war, many of these officers had intended to serve only for the emergency and 6 months thereafter and then return to their former civilian positions. Others were not happy with their working conditions--some dietitians had been required to serve under mess officers who were less qualified and experienced in food service activities; some physical therapists were unhappy about the change in their duties and responsibilities after the establishment of the physical medicine service. Others wanted to leave the service, not sure of what they wanted of the future.

The situation was a serious one for the dietitians because they had never attained their procurement objective. As demobilization progressed, the War Department authorized a recall quota of 50 dietitians. This made it possible for those dietitians who were interested in remaining in the service to request extended active duty. There had been a surplus of physical therapists early in 1946, but accelerated separation policies had enabled such a large number to be separated that by April 1947, it was necessary to start procurement to meet the peacetime needs. Since many of the physical therapists who had left the service were by this time established in other positions, serious consideration was given to the early resumption of the Army`s physical therapy training program, a vital source of procurement in the past.

Problems which faced the occupational therapists at this particular time were quite similar to those confronting the dietitians and physical

12Report of Activities, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, 1 July-31 Dec. 1949, p. 16.


therapists. Because occupational therapists had always been civilian employees with the Army, there were, however, many facets of military life which were foreign to them.

Whether to apply for a commission, whether to leave the Army and take a position in a civilian or other government hospital, whether to remain with the Army as a civilian employee and hope that seniority acquired during the war years would provide protection from periodic reductions in personnel--these were some of the problems that confronted each occupational therapist. Some applied for commissions, some resigned, and others remained on duty as civilians even though they realized that eventually they would be replaced by commissioned occupational therapists.


Training programs

To offset the losses in the dietitian, physical therapist, and occupational therapist sections, plans were made in December 1947 to activate the physical therapy and occupational therapy training programs and to convert the dietetic internship at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Tex., from a civilian to a military training program. Students selected to enter the three professional programs in the fall of 1948 would have to meet all criteria for a Regular Army commission although they would be commissioned as second lieutenants, Officers` Reserve Corps, for the period of their training. They would be required to express in writing their desire to apply for commissions in the Regular Army upon satisfactory completion of the training course.13 This commitment was eliminated in 1952 as it was a deterrent to procurement.

By March 1948, it had been determined that the 6 months` didactic portion of the physical therapy course would be given at the Medical Field Service School, Fort Sam Houston, Tex., and the 6 months` applicatory phase in selected Army general hospitals.14 At the same time, it was decided that the program for commissioned occupational therapists would be limited to 12 months` clinical affiliation in selected Army general hospitals but that this program would not begin in the fall of 1948 as previously planned. An affiliation program for civilian occupational therapy students, authorized in December 1947, was already scheduled for September 1948.15

The relatively small numbers of students who applied for the dietetic internship and the physical therapy course which began in September 1948 precluded the degree of selectivity necessary to insure the caliber of professional personnel desired for future Regular Army officers. It had been anticipated that a wide range of colleges and universities

13Department of the Army Circular No. 67, 15 Mar. 1948.
14Circular No. 85, Office of The Surgeon General, U.S. Army, 7 July 1948.
15Circular No. 164, Office of The Surgeon General, U.S. Army, 29 Dec. 1947.


would be represented. To achieve this goal, an active publicity and recruitment program was initiated.

It was found that the best method of acquainting students with these programs was through visits to the colleges and universities to explain and answer questions about the Army and military status. As a result of the more direct and personal approach, a greater number of individuals applied and a wider range of institutions was represented in applications for the 1949 classes. More selectivity of applicants was thereby achieved.

The first occupational therapy clinical affiliation for military students began in September 1949. As had been the experience with the dietetic and physical therapy training programs, the number of applicants was too few to allow for much selectivity. An active publicity program was productive of a larger representation in the course which began in the fall of 1950.

Qualified personnel

The need to increase the active strength of the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps to more nearly approximate requirements constituted a perennial problem. Two sources of procurement which had been emphasized were the Regular Army integration program and the professional training courses conducted by the Army. Another source had not been fully explored--the procurement of qualified graduates of civilian schools. Publicity was intensified, therefore, with the hope of interesting potential candidates in pursuing their professional careers in the military service. The customary publicity media were used--brochures, fact sheets, posters, articles. Letters were written to eligible individuals, directors of approved dietetic, physical therapy, and occupational therapy courses, and to inactive members of the Officers` Reserve Corps. Visits were made to the approved professional schools which afforded an opportunity to explain the program in more detail and conduct personal interviews with interested students.

By the end of 1948, 46 appointments in the Officers` Reserve Corps had been made, and 62 additional officers had been assigned to extended active duty. In 1949, approximately 40 officers were assigned to active duty.16 During this period, shortages were greatest in the dietitian and occupational therapist sections.

Factors influencing procurement

There were a number of factors which undoubtedly influenced procurement. Probably most important was the acute civilian shortage in the three categories of personnel represented in the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, and, at the same time, the greatly increased demand. Because of the lower birth rate in the 1930`s there were fewer college

16From statistics compiled in Office of Chief, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, Surgeon General`s Office.


graduates entering these professions. Another deterrent was the increasing number of career opportunities for women. Within the service there were several factors which were unavoidable from an administrative point of view, but which weighed heavily in an applicant`s final decision. These included lack of assurance as to choice or stability of assignment because of the necessity of giving priority to the overall needs of the service. One of the most serious problems associated with personnel procurement was the inadequate housing which existed in some Army installations. The magnitude of this problem precluded any immediate solution.


As of 30 June 1948, there were 437 Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers on duty: 195 dietitians, 197 physical therapists, and 45 occupational therapists. By 30 June 1950, the strength had decreased to 340 officers: 141 dietitians, 135 physical therapists, and 64 occupational therapists. (See Appendix J, p. 611.) Approximately 85 percent of the Corps continued to be assigned in the United States (See Appendix K, p. 613.) and over 55 percent of the members on duty were those in a Reserve status.

This drop in strength was the natural result of circumstances. Termination of Army of the United States status for dietitians and physical therapists in May 1948 had resulted in separation from the service of those who did not desire to apply for Regular Army commissions. Too, those members who had accepted commissions in the Officers` Reserve Corps had signed category commitments and thus could be separated upon termination of the commitment. Another reason for separation applicable to women only was marriage.

The greatest decrease in strength occurred in 1949 when a separate Medical Department was authorized for the Air Force. A system of interservice transfer of personnel had been mutually agreed upon, and by July 1949, 90 Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers had transferred to the Air Force: 38 dietitians, 39 physical therapists, and 13 occupational therapists.

Career Management

Considerable time and study were devoted to the development of career patterns for Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers. A first draft of the pattern and description of the plan was submitted to the Chief, Personnel Division, in December 1947. With minor revisions, the chart and narrative description were approved and published in June 194817 (chart 7).

The first portion of the career management program to be imple-

17(1) Department of the Army Technical Manual (TM) 20-605, June 1948. (2) Medical Department, United States Army. Personnel in World War II. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1963, pp. 509-510.


CHART 7-Women`s Medical Specialist Corps career pattern


mented, and by far the most important, was the provision authorizing advanced professional training for outstanding officers of the corps. It was first thought that, beginning in September 1948, there would be 14 Regular Army officers selected to attend graduate courses leading to a master`s degree. Owing to budgetary limitations, however, this number was reduced to six.

In addition to the courses leading to a master`s degree, authority was also established for Regular Army Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers to participate in a number of courses18 ranging from 3 weeks to 6 months. From time to time, the question arose as to whether it was consistent with established policies to select Reserve officers of the corps to attend the shorter courses. It appeared advisable to adopt the general policy established for other corps; namely, that Reserve officers selected for such training would have to have at least 1 year to serve following completion of the course. On 11 October 1949, The Surgeon General established a policy whereby a Reserve officer could be selected to attend short courses if it could be determined that such additional training was essential to the performance of her duty and if no Regular Army officer of equal or better qualification applied for that particular course.

Activation of Medical Department Female Officers` Course

The basic military orientation program had proved invaluable for dietitians and physical therapists in World War II. It was believed necessary to reactivate this program in order to prepare Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers for their responsibilities as commissioned officers whether in the Regular Army or the Officers` Reserve Corps. All initial planning for the basic program had been completed by the time Public Law 80-36 was passed, so the only procedure remaining to be accomplished was the publication of implementing directives and courses of study. The course was conducted at the Medical Field Service School.

Although the course was planned to include Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers in addition to officers of the Army Nurse Corps, the latter were so greatly in the majority that the program of instruction in the clinical aspects was geared primarily to the nursing aspects of military medicine. During the hours devoted to these subjects, pertinent material of a professional nature was substituted for officers of the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps. These substitute hours consisted of 46 hours pertaining to hospital food service for dietitians and 36 hours of clinical observation and seminars for physical and occupational therapists.

18(1) Department of the Army Circular No. 392, 17 Dec. 1948. (2) See Appendix L, p. 615 for list of military and civilian courses attended by Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers from 1948 to 1961.



Two factors contributed to the delay in accomplishing promotions in the Regular Army Women`s Medical Specialist Corps. First, no promotions could be made until individuals currently serving in the Medical Department integrated into the Regular Army. Second, the delay in establishing a Women`s Medical Specialist Corps Division had resulted in confusion and misunderstanding as to procedures for accomplishing promotions.

Public Law 80-36 authorized 24 officers in the permanent grade of major, 8 for each section of the corps. It was not until 19 July 1948 that the first promotions to the permanent grade of major, Regular Army were announced. Seven dietitians and seven physical therapists19 were promoted, all of whom had served in the Medical Department for many years and had been integrated into the Regular Army in the grade of captain. Since no occupational therapists had been in the grade of captain the required length of time, none was eligible for promotion. In the spring of 1949, the first occupational therapist20 was promoted to the permanent grade of major. There were no additional promotions made in this grade until after May 1950.21

In accordance with Public Law 80-36, promotion of Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers to the permanent grade of captain was dependent upon completion of 10 or more years active or constructive service and the satisfactory completion of a professional examination. Because of delays in return of examinations, no promotions to the permanent grade of captain were made until early 1949. By this time, it was obvious that elimination of the examination was necessary in order to equalize promotion procedures for all corps. This was accomplished in May 1950 with the passage of Public Law 514, 81st Congress.

Late in 1949, the Department of the Army announced that, effective on 1 January 1950, promotion to the temporary grade of first lieutenant in the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps previously made upon completion of 18 months` service would not be accomplished until after completion of 3 years` satisfactory service.22 In the meantime, the Air Force had indicated that promotions to this grade in that service would continue to be made upon the satisfactory completion of 18 months` service. This created a morale problem which resulted in a number of requests for transfer from the Army to the Air Force. The inequity was corrected in April 1950, when the Army reverted to its former qualification of 18 months` service.23 The grade distribution as of 30 June 1950 shows that 10 Regular Army second lieutenants were

19Dietitians: Myrtle Aldrich, Helen A. Dautrich, Helen M. Davis, Hilda M. Lovett, Eleanor L. Mitchell, Grace Smith, and Nell Wickliffe. Physical therapists: Felie Clark, Brunetta A. Kuehlthau, Elsie Kuraner, Harriet S. Lee, Edna Lura, Agnes P. Snyder, and Ethel M. Theilmann.
20Ruth A. Robinson.
21Spaces without reference to sectional proportionment were made available by Public Law 514, 81st Congress, approved 16 May 1950.
22Army Regulations No. 605-12, 28 Oct. 1949, Changes 1.
23Circular No. 43, Office of The Surgeon General, 12 Apr. 1950.


serving in the temporary grade of first lieutenant. The greatest strength of the Regular Army component of this young corps was in the grade of captain (table 15).

TABLE 15-Breakdown by grades of Regular Army officers in the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, 30 June 1950


A Department of the Army directive outlining requirements for Women`s Medical Specialist Corps Reserve appointment and the procedures by which it could be accomplished was published in March 1948.24 As a result of limited publicity, the submission of applications was somewhat slow. For example, Reserve appointments by 30 June 1948 totaled only 22 for those on extended active duty: 2 dietitians, 9 physical therapists, and 11 occupational therapists; and 13 for those in inactive status: 4 dietitians, 1 physical therapist, and 8 occupational therapists.

The appointment of Reserve officers in the inactive status necessitated the development of a program which would enable them to earn the 50 points annually that were required to keep their Reserve status current. Early in 1948, it was envisioned that extension courses which had been prepared for male officers might also be made available to female officers. This plan, however, was never entirely successful because the content of those courses did not meet either the professional or the military needs of Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers.

In August 1948, the Chief, Officers` Reserve Section, Department of the Army, called a conference which was attended by the chiefs of all corps in the Army Medical Service to further discuss the problems associated with acquiring retention and retirement credit. It was pointed out that many Reserve officers in the inactive status lived in areas remote from Army medical installations. As a result they did not have an opportunity to become affiliated with a unit and therefore had difficulty in earning the necessary credit points. Consequently, to obtain

24See footnote 13, p. 352.


points these officers had to depend entirely on whatever extension courses seemed appropriate and on short periods of active duty if such were made available to them. As a result of this conference, the quarterly distribution of a newsletter was begun in order to keep members of the Reserve Corps aware of new regulations and procedures by which points could be acquired. These newsletters helped greatly to clarify the situation and offered an opportunity to disseminate current information which was sorely needed in the fields. A plan was also developed by which Reserve officers could be credited with additional points through attendance at military conferences held in various Army areas.

Two other major problems for the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps inactive reservist proved to be limited position vacancies in Reserve hospital units and lack of promotion opportunities. Much effort was directed toward revising the maximum age-in-grade limitations which had been established for Reserve hospital units. In these organizations there were no field grade position vacancies and very few spaces in the grade of captain for Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers. Consequently, there was a 100 percent loss among captains who had reached the maximum age-in-grade in these positions. This meant that the Army Medical Service lost the services of these officers who had been trained with the unit and whose services in an emergency would be most valuable. It was obvious that the solution of this problem would depend on a reevaluation of the organizational structure of these units and the development of a plan which would provide more assignment opportunities and more promotions for Women`s Medical Specialist Corps Reserve officers. Progress toward this end was made in 1954 with the passage of the Reserve Officer Personnel Act.


Development of a New Uniform

In May 1949, The Quartermaster General appointed an advisory committee of six women, all of whom were leading civilian fashion authorities in the United States, to serve as consultants in the development of a new uniform for women in the Army.25 The clothing needs were studied and the committee made recommendations on the design, color, and fabric for a new uniform. In their deliberations, they considered the appearance and usefulness of the items, the environmental protection and functional design of the uniform, and the results of current technical research on materials. The Chiefs of the Army Nurse Corps,

25The members of this committee were Miss Dorothy Shaver, President, Lord & Taylor, New York, N.Y., who was adviser on women`s clothing to The Quartermaster General during World War II, Chairman; Mrs. Edna Woolman Chase, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue; Mrs. Tobe Coller Davis, fashion merchandise consultant; Miss Eleanor Lambert, fashion publicist; Mrs. Mary Brooks Picken, authority on home economics and advertising; and Mrs. Carmel Snow, Editor of Harper`s Bazaar.


FIGURE 95-Uniforms worn during period 1945-51. (Top) Col. Emma E. Vogel is congratulated on her appointment as Chief, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps. Left to right: Col. Mary G. Phillips, Chief, Army Nurse Corps; Col. Mary A. Hallaren, Staff Director, Women`s Army Corps; Colonel Vogel; and Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Bliss, The Surgeon General. (U.S. Army photograph.) (Bottom) Physical therapists confer at Walter Reed General Hospital. Left to right: Col. Emmett M. Smith, Chief, Physical Medicine Consultants Division, Surgeon General`s Office; Maj. Harriet S. Lee, Assistant, Physical Therapist Section, WMSC; Lt. Col. Edna Lura, Chief, Physical Therapist Section, WMSC; Colonel Vogel; Maj. Gen. Paul H. Streit, Commanding General, Walter Reed General Hospital; and Capt. Barbara M. Robertson, Chief Physical Therapist, Walter Reed General Hospital, Washington, D.C.


FIGURE 96-Wool taupe and summer dress uniform authorized in 1951. (U.S. Army photograph.)

Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, and Women`s Army Corps met with the committee in these studies.

The committee recommended that the former style (fig. 95) be abandoned and that the uniform be of contemporary style as to both silhouette and length. They also recommended that women`s uniforms should depart from the olive drab shades and that taupe should be considered as it was believed to be more attractive. Many samples of materials in taupe shades were submitted for committee study before the final selection was made.

On 23 February 1950, the new uniforms (with suitable accessories) designed by Miss Hattie Carnegie, New York, N.Y., were displayed in a special preview at Headquarters, First U.S. Army, Governors Island, N.Y. Those attending included Secretary of the Army Gordon Gray, high Army officials, representatives of the press, and chiefs of the interested Army corps. Modeled by officers in the Army Nurse Corps and Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, the uniform items consisted of a two-piece taupe wool uniform (fig. 96) with two blouses, one a cream rayon for dress and the other a taupe cotton for duty wear; a taupe wool overcoat; a taupe wool field jacket which could be worn with either the


skirt or slacks; and the summer dress which was a one-piece garment made of taupe cotton material. Matching oversea caps were designed for these uniforms. The summer dress uniform, of the same design as the taupe uniform, was made of white Palm Beach material and worn with white accessories.

These uniforms represented several distinct departures from the former uniforms, and, with the reduction in the number of uniform items, it was envisioned at that time that the complete ensemble would cost less than the uniform which had been worn by women in the Army since 1943. It was planned that the changeover to the new uniform would be gradual, and would not be totally accomplished until mid-1952, at which time it was anticipated that existing stocks of the old uniform would be depleted.

Clothing Tests

Early in 1949, Colonel Vogel and representatives of the Army Nurse Corps, Women`s Army Corps, and the Quartermaster General`s Office participated in a test of field clothing held at Mount Washington, North Conway, N.H. The purpose of this test, which was initiated by the Clothing Research and Development Division, Quartermaster General`s Office, was to review and evaluate the adequacy of standard field clothing designed for wear by military women in dry, cold weather and to determine whether field clothing designed for male personnel could be substituted for wear by women. All who participated in the test wore the women`s standard field clothing which was supplemented by men`s garments and footwear. Similar tests were later conducted in reference to clothing designed for wear in wet, cold weather.

Briefly, the conclusions drawn from these tests were:

1. Women could wear men`s clothing in an emergency when protection against weather was the main requirement.

2. Women would require specially designed and sized garments whenever the work performed was the main requirement. For evacuation in Arctic areas involving travel by truck, for example, women could be adequately clothed in men`s garments. On the contrary, women in the Army Medical Service working in tent hospitals required clothing in women`s sizes and design so that they would not be hampered by ill-fitting men`s garments and burdened by men`s heavy shoes.

3. Women could wear items such as underwear, caps, and hose designed for men, provided small sizes were available. Standard field clothing designed for women was deemed adequate except for the shoes.


In the postwar years, it became increasingly apparent that there were many problems which were mutually shared by the women members of all the military services. In order to coordinate and establish


uniformity of policies pertaining to military women, early in 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson expanded the Military Personnel Policy Committee in his office to include a Women`s Interests Section.26 Esther Strong, Ph. D., a woman of wide experience in the field of civilian personnel management was designated chairman of this section. On Doctor Strong`s recommendation, the chiefs of the women`s components in the military services were designated as constituting an advisory group. Beginning in May 1949, these officers met monthly with Doctor Strong to discuss problems common to all groups, for example:

1. Improvement in housing facilities on military reservations for both enlisted and commissioned women.

2. Mobilization planning with particular reference to the utilization of military women.

3. Religion, welfare, and recreation.

4. Recruitment.

5. Separation policies.

Adequate quarters for women officers in the Army Medical Service had long been a matter of great concern to The Surgeon General. The interpretation of criteria for determining the adequacy of quarters for these officers varied markedly between military medical installations. At some posts, women officers were authorized commutation for quarters and thus could live off the military reservation; at other posts, although the same criteria existed, this action was not taken.

The results of several conferences on this problem were reported by The Surgeon General to the Director, Personnel and Administration, General Staff, U.S. Army, on 7 September 1949.27 No action, however, resulted. During the conferences the Chiefs of the Army Nurse Corps and the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps expressed their views that apartment-type quarters for women officers in the Army Medical Service were essential to the maintenance of a high level of morale and efficiency.


The need to amend Public Law 80-36 became obvious early in 1948. The law stated that 20 years of active Federal service would be required for retirement but further provided that in determining eligibility for retirement, each Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officer commissioned in the Regular Army would be considered to have at least the same length of continuous active commissioned service in the Regular Army as any officer junior to her in rank in the Regular Army Medical Department. The inequity of the latter stipulation be-

26In 1941, Gen. George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, had employed Mrs. Oveta Culp Hobby to establish a Women`s Interests Section of the War Department Bureau of Public Relations. (Treadwell, Mattie E.: The Women`s Army Corps. United States Army in World War II. Special Studies. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1954, p. 21.)
27See footnote 12, p. 351.


came apparent when Colonel Burns, who had married in November 1947, applied for retirement early in 1948. Although she had 20 years of combined civilian and military service, the officer next junior to her was credited with only 13 years of active commissioned service. According to a decision of the Comptroller General of the United States she was found ineligible for retirement because her civilian service could not be credited for retirement even though it had been credited for longevity for pay purposes. There being no alternative provisions of law, Colonel Burns resigned.

There were other cogent reasons to amend Public Law 80-36. Integration into the Regular Army was to have been accomplished by 16 April 1948 but since it had been much slower than anticipated, legislation was required to extend the period. In addition, the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps was restricted by the law to 24 officers in the permanent commissioned grade of major regardless of the authorized strength of the corps. It was believed that a percentage limitation would provide more flexibility.

Another inequity in Public Law 80-36 was related to the period of service when dietitians and physical therapists served in relative rank status, 22 December 1942 to 22 June 1944. This period was not interpreted as being military service for officers who left the service and were later reappointed in the Army of the United States28 or in the Officers` Reserve Corps.29 This period was, however, interpreted as being military service for those officers appointed under the act of December 1942 and with no break in service subsequently appointed in the Regular Army. This inequity was remedied by legislation in 1959.30


A bill to amend Public Law 80-36 was prepared but was not presented to Congress before it adjourned in June 1948. Since the Secretary of the Army had directed that controversial legislation concerning military matters would not be presented to the short special session which followed, presentation of the bill was delayed until the next regular session of Congress.

The proposed legislation at first was not approved by the General Staff, G-1 (personnel), U.S. Army. Concurrence was obtained, however, when it was pointed out that seven senior Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers including the chief of the corps would be unable to complete 20 years of military service before their 60th birthdays. Approval was also obtained from the Director of the Budget who initially was reluctant to concur in legislation which would grant retirement credit for civilian service of dietitians and physical therapists. His premise was that to do so would establish a precedent.

28Public Law 350, 78th Congress, 2d Session, approved 22 June 1944.
29See footnote 2 (1), p. 341.
30Public Law 197, 86th Congress, approved 25 Aug. 1959.


FIGURE 97-Col. Emma E. Vogel, Chief, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, explains legislative changes to nurses, dietitians, and physical and occupational therapists at William Beaumont General Hospital, El Paso, Tex.

The bill was passed by the House of Representatives on 11 October 1949, but because of the early adjournment of Congress, no action was taken by the Senate. Favorable consideration was given the bill early in 1950, and on 16 May 1950, Public Law 81-514 was signed by the President.

The new law extended integration in the Regular Army Women`s Medical Specialist Corps until May 1951 (fig. 97). It authorized credit for civilian service toward retirement as well as longevity for dietitians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. A percentage limitation for officers in the permanent grade of major was established. The law also provided that applicants with 7 or more years of active or constructive31 service would be appointed in the grade of captain with their date of rank 7 years from the basic date established on their appointment. This gave these officers a promotional advantage over their Army peers appointed under the provisions of Public Law 80-36 who had been required to have 10 or more years of active or constructive service for appointment as captain. The inequity was corrected by passage of Public Law 229, 84th Congress, 4 August 1955.

Public Law 81-514 also provided that the chief and assistant chiefs

31Constructive service is defined as the service credit given for the number of years, months, and days by which an applicant`s age, at the date of appointment in the Regular Army, exceeds 25 years.


of the corps could request retirement in their statutory grade after having served in office for a period of 2½ years rather than the previously established period of 4 years.


Procedures for the new integration program were established, and concerted effort was made by the chief and assistant chiefs of the corps to stimulate interest in Regular Army commissions and to explain the changes and benefits authorized by the new legislation. The law authorized receipt of applications for Regular Army commissions from members of the Officers` Reserve Corps and civilians with prior military service provided they had not passed their 35th birthday on the date of nomination by the President. It was thought that this added source of personnel would help alleviate the shortages which by early 1950 had become serious.

Out of 85 applicants, 22 were disqualified for various reasons and 2 declined to accept their commissions, leaving 61 officers to be added to the Regular Army component of the corps. This did not increase the membership of the corps to any appreciable extent since a number of the appointees were already on active duty as Reserve officers. The resumption of integration did make it possible, however, to appoint in the Regular Army some qualified individuals who had been excluded from the previous integration program because of age.