U.S. Army Medical Department, Office of Medical History
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HISTORY OF THE OFFICE OF MEDICAL HISTORY

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World War I and the Historical Division

History of The Office of Medical History, page 1 / History of The Office of Medical History, page 2

Korea, Vietnam, and the Historical Unit

After the war, the Historical Division was renamed as the Historical Unit of the US Army Medical Service. Finding new permanence and continuing its work on the monumental World War II project, the Historical Unit also began work on the preparation and publication of history for the Korean War in 1950. At this time the unit had approximately fifty personnel, military and civilian, dedicated to the research and review of both the World War II and Korean War history projects. Editors from various specialties continued to provide expertise for technical information as found in volumes featuring dental, surgical, psychiatric, or veterinary care.

In addition to these undertakings the Historical Unit maintained the annual reports from the Office of the Surgeon General. As US Army involvement increased in Vietnam, historical collection followed previous patterns. Storing archival material from the three conflicts and additional events, the History Unit maintained its holdings at facilities in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Photographic collections for the unit during the mid-1960s filled thirty drawers. Having these reference materials available proved to be beneficial as the Historical Unit’s mission expanded
from publication and collection to providing research and answers for official inquiries. Despite
the increased workload, personnel numbers for the Historical Unit dwindled.

1974-1998, The Center of Military History

In the early 1970s, during the Army’s Post-Vietnam reorganization, plans were formulated to convert the Medical History Unit from a separate field operating agency to a field operating activity combined with the Center of Military History (CMH). Courses of action were discussed, and at first it appeared that the Historical Unit might be assimilated into the Academy of Health Sciences at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Later it was determined that the Center of Military History was the better choice because it provided improved supervision of the unit and
allowed for greater centralization of the Army’s history program. These arrangements were also hoped to quell poor morale and low productivity within the medical history unit that had been documented through Inspector General Reports. Plans for the change were formulated in 1974 and the transfer occurred on 30 June 1975.

While under the Center of Military History, personnel positions in the Medical History Unit decreased significantly from its peak of twenty-eight people in 1974. After the transfer and subsequent allotments within CMH, the Medical History Unit attempted to maintain its missions. Publication of US Army Medical History continued, and the production of The Army Medical Department 1775-1818 and The Army Medical Department 1818-1865 are notable examples of products during the CMH term.

1998-2009 Office of the Surgeon General

After an absence of twenty-three years the AMEDD re-established a history office located in the Office of the Surgeon General, Falls Church, Virginia. The new Office of Medical History was greatly supported by Surgeon General Blanck, LTG, MC, and Colonel Fred Gerber, Chief of Healthcare Operations. When the office came back into existence, it was in the Division of Healthcare Operations and under the direction of Dr. John Greenwood who had
moved from the Center of Military History for this new directorship. Due to the fact that the new office was re-establishing itself, Dr. Greenwood needed to establish a reference library and reference collection, etc. The task of collecting, archiving, researching and outreach of history functions was beyond the capability of one person to accomplish and Dr. Greenwood addressed this need through a contract for historical services with a Northern Virginia contract firm. The contract historians, archivists, web support and administrative provided needed services to the Office of Medical History. During the time period from 1998 to 2009 the Office of Medical History was moved for reporting purposes between Healthcare Operations, Special Staff, to Directorate of Strategic Communications, then back to the Special Staff this time reporting to the MEDCOM Chief of Staff. The Office of Medical History, like its predecessors, began an aggressive campaign to document the AMEDD history with a series of AMEDD historical
books, some of the titles A History of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, 1972-2001, by COL (Ret) Mary Sarnecky, Call Sign DUSTOFF, by Col (Ret) Darrel Whitcomb.Today there are several more books in various stages of publications waiting to be printed as well as books in the concept stage of development.

2010- Present

In March 2010 the Office of Medical History moved to Fort Sam Houston and the contract for historical services ended. AMEDD leadership made a decision that the Office of Medical History will be staffed with government employees, and so the hiring process began. Today the Office of Medical History is a component of the AMEDD Center of History and Heritage. The office still continues its mission to support the men and women of the U.S. Army Medical Department and Army Medical Command through the assembly and publication of reference materials, original works, previously unpublished works, reprints, special studies, web publications, AMEDD newspaper/professional publications, and print series. The program includes the administration of a field history program as well as an oral history program for the conduct of regular interviews with key OTSG/MEDCOM active and retired personnel and provides coverage of current operations and issues with participants and decision makers.