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AMEDD Corps History > Medical Specialist > Publication

The history of dietitians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists in the Army Medical Service commences during World War I when a small group of young dedicated women served in Army hospitals both in the United States and overseas as pioneers in their respective professions. This volume includes only a brief résumé of the administration of these three groups during World War I and the period between the two World Wars. It is concerned primarily with the professional services and educational and administrative activities of dietitians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists from the beginning of World War II to January 1961, two decades which witnessed marked scientific advancement and professional growth in each of the three professions.

The coverage of the activities of the three professional groups posed a problem for those charged with determining the format of this volume. It was believed that the interest of the majority of potential readers would be confined to one of the three professions, and it seemed highly desirable to arrange the major portion of the volume so that the reader could follow the history of the profession in which he had particular interest to the exclusion of the others without loss of continuity or corps concept.

This has been accomplished by dividing the volume into four parts. Part I consists of three sections, covering respectively the activities of dietitians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists in the Army Medical Service before World War II. Part II covers the administration, training, and professional activities of the three groups during World War II. Part III relates the history of the corps from its inception as the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, its change in composition as the Army Medical Specialist Corps in August 1955, to the terminal date of this volume, January 1961. Part IV relates separately the history of the educational programs and professional services of these specialists from World War II to 1961. It is therefore possible by selecting appropriate sections of the volume to follow separately the history of each professional specialty, including or not, as the reader wishes, the history of the corps per se. By the same token, the administrative history of the corps may be read without reference to the rest of the volume.

It was not intended that this volume serve as a mere recital of historical facts and events. It was envisaged rather as a record of the professional services to patients in Army hospitals of dietitians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists as well as a realistic account of the administrative achievements and vicissitudes of these three groups both before and after their incorporation into one corps. It is hoped that some knowledge and understanding of the past may serve as an inspiration to the present and future members of the corps.

The principal sources for the writing of this history have been official documents and pertinent historical records compiled and saved during the years as a result of the foresight and wisdom of individuals who looked forward to the day when such a volume might be written. The statistics presented are those which have been personally compiled by the authors either from official or unofficial records maintained either by the Office of the Chief, Army Medical Specialist Corps, or by the professional section concerned. They do not always represent official Medical Department statistics but they do reflect information obtained from records regularly assembled and periodically reported to The Surgeon General.

Many members of the corps were awarded decorations and commendations during World War II. These are not recorded in this history because of the insufficient information that was available. It was believed to be more appropriate to omit any listing rather than to include one which would be incomplete.

Information was also obtained from active-duty personnel who had knowledge and experience in selected professional areas and from those who reviewed the manuscript. The names of reviewers are in the Acknowledgments. Their comments, suggestions, and challenges were of the utmost value to the authors and the editors in revising the material to reflect accuracy in the professional and administrative material presented.

The volume could not have become a reality without the support, guidance, and encouragement of the late Maj. Gen. Silas B. Hays, The Surgeon General, who authorized its preparation. On behalf of all the dietitians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists who have made the history herein recorded, the editors wish to express appreciation to Lt. Gen. Leonard D. Heaton, The Surgeon General, who continued to support the writing project; Col. John Boyd Coates, Jr., MC, USA, former Director and Editor in Chief of The Historical Unit, U.S. Army Medical Service, who gave unstintingly of his time, judgment, and knowledge; and to Maj. Gen. Floyd L. Wergeland who served so ably as chairman of the Advisory Editorial Board. The Army Medical Specialist Corps in general and the editors in particular are greatly indebted to Charles M. Wiltse, Ph. D., Litt. D., Chief Historian, The Historical Unit, for his many helpful suggestions in reorganization of the volume and revision of manuscript content.

Special words of appreciation are due to the branch chiefs and individual branch members of The Historical Unit whose unflagging interest, cheerful assistance, and friendly willingness made completion of this volume possible.

Special acknowledgment is made to those who are no longer with The Historical Unit: Mrs. Lucy W. Lazarou and Maj. Albert C. Riggs, Jr., MSC, USAR, former chiefs of the General Reference and Research Branch, and a member of that branch, Mrs. Genevieve K. Comeau; Col. Charles A. Pendlyshok, MSC, USA, Lt. Col. Matthew Ginalick,

MSC, USA, and Lt. Col. Douglas Hesford, MSC, USA, former chiefs of the Special Projects Branch. Special acknowledgment is made to Lt. Col. Kathleen W. Phillips, ANC, USA, Visual Aids Section, Medical Illustration Service, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, and to Maj. Brunetta Kuehlthau Gillet, AMSC, USA (Ret.), for their assistance in securing photographs for the volume.

Finally, sincere acknowledgment is made to Miss Janie W. Williams, Chief, Publication Section, Editorial Branch, The Historical Unit, for performing the final publications editing and to Mrs. Cyrilla E. Hickey, Editor (Printed Media), Editorial Branch, The Historical Unit, for preparing the index for this volume.

Colonel, AMSC, USA (Ret.).

Lieutenant Colonel, AMSC, USA (Ret.).