The United States Army Medical Service Corps is an important national resource with a long and distinguished history. Many thousands of officers have proudly served in its ranks, selflessly supporting the nation’s defense missions in peace and war throughout the world. With varied academic backgrounds and disciplines, these officers have been widely recognized and highly regarded leaders in their respective fields. They represent the growth in medical science and military medical operations and administration over two centuries.
The story of the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps is evolutionary. Precursors such as Revolutionary War apothecaries and officers of the Civil War Ambulance Corps evolved into the World War I Sanitary Corps which was established June 30, 1917, as a temporary part of the Medical Department based on authority provided by an May 18, 1917 Act of Congress. This corps, which rapidly expanded to nearly 3,000 officers during the WWI, enabled the relief of physicians from a variety of administrative, technical and scientific duties. The Sanitary Corps was demobilized following the war.
During the inter-war years, it became clear that the Army needed a permanent medical ancillary organization. This led to the establishment of the Medical Administrative Corps, June 4, 1920. Growth in World War II was spectacular. The MAC increased from less than 100 officers in 1939 to more than 22,000 by 1945. These officers freed physicians for patient care responsibilities by occupying an expanded variety of positions.
A third precursor, the Pharmacy Corps, was established as a Regular Army branch on 12 July 1943. Finally on 4 August 1947, the Sanitary, Administrative and Pharmacy Corps were replaced by the Medical Service Corps consisting of 26 Areas of Concentration (AOC) categorized by three distinct disciplines: Allied Health Sciences, Administration, and Air Medical Evacuation.
On June 30, the Medical Service Corps commemorated 96 years of service to this country. The occasion was celebrated June 27 with a ceremony hosted by members of the Medical Service Corps at the National Training Center and Fort Irwin.
Medical Service Corps officers serve in a variety of functions, here. Of the 29 officers currently on station, most serve as force enablers to the NTC within the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity as healthcare administrators, comptrollers, patient administrators, human resource managers, medical operations officers, medical logisticians, environmental science and engineering officers, clinical laboratory officers, pharmacists, optometrists, behavioral science officers and health services maintenance officers. Others provide direct support to the NTC training mission as Observer/Controller/Trainers and aeromedical evacuation pilots.
Whether in direct support of rotational brigade combat teams or indirectly by providing medical support, all MSC officers serve with a singular purpose of “Serving to Heal…Honored to Serve.”