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Statement by the Secretary of the Army

A Decade of Progress - Contents

In 10 years the United States Army nearly doubled in size, increasing from 862 thousand men in 1959 to more than a million and a half men in 1969. During this decade, the Army responded to the requirements of the Vietnam war while it continued to guard against aggression in Europe and Asia. Every facet of the Army organization was taxed to the utmost under the pressure of these multiple missions, and the Medical Department served as an excellent example of the manner in which the Army as a whole took up the challenge.

Under the command of Lieutenant General Leonard D. Heaton throughout the 10-year period, the Medical Department constructed more than 20 new hospitals and provided services to the soldiers and dependents of a rapidly growing Army. General Heaton, a renowned surgeon in his own right, exercised in addition the administrative leadership that kept the Army Medical Department at the forefront with an energetic and innovative program of modernization.

The exigencies of the war in Vietnam were the chief preoccupation of the Medical Department during much of this period, and the efforts of a host of skilled and dedicated doctors and other medical personnel resulted in remarkable progress in combat medicine-progress that will be reflected in many fields outside the Army. Among the dramatic examples of the revolutionary aspects of current combat medical practice was employment of the helicopter for evacuation of wounded soldiers, saving precious time and allowing the medical personnel the opportunity to apply their skills with much improved efficiency. As a result, an amazing 97.5 percent of wounded soldiers admitted to a medical facility subsequently recovered from their wounds. Equally significant, over 80 percent of all wounded soldiers were later able to return to duty. The high morale of U.S. soldiers in the Vietnam war can be attributed in great measure to the effectiveness of their medical support.

Sufficient time has not yet elapsed to permit the compilation of all the records and the evaluation of the events in which the Army Medical Department has been involved over the past 10 years. However, this brief monograph prepared by the Department's Historical Unit will enable the interested military as well as civilian reader to gain some insight into the nature and scope of the Army's medical services during a critical period in the Nation's history.

STANLEY R. RESOR,
Secretary of the Army.