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U.S. Army Medical Specialist Corps celebrates 72nd anniversary

By Jose E. Rodriguez | U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School, Health Readiness Center of Excellence Public Affairs | April 19, 2019

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —

The U.S. Army Medical Specialist Corps, or AMSC, celebrated its 72nd anniversary with a cake-cutting ceremony at the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School, Health Readiness Center of Excellence, or AMEDDC&S HRCoE, headquarters building at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston April 16.

As one of six Army Medical Corps, the AMSC serves as the cornerstone of medical and performance readiness. Their specialists provide health promotion, human performance optimization, treatment and rehabilitation, injury control, and education to the Total Army Force.

The AMSC is comprised of four Army officer areas of concentration: 65A Army Occupational Therapists (OT), 65C Army Dietitians, 65C Army Dietitians, and 65D Army Physician Assistants (PA).

Each AOC in the AMSC uses its unique skillset to come together as a team to provide a holistic and complete approach that supports the performance optimization of our warfighters with a focus on readiness.

The host for the ceremony was Col. Sara J. Spielmann, Corps Specific Branch Proponent Officer, while performing the cake-cutting honors were retired Col. Jessie Breuer, an army dietician and AMSC chief from 1982 to 1986, and 2nd Lt. Carley Laplant, an Army physical therapist.

“It’s a great time to be an SP Corps officer,” Spielmann said. “With today's focus on readiness, the operational environment has never had such high demand for our services. I am proud to say that I am an officer in the SP Corps.”

The AMSC can trace its lineage for more than 72 years. The first dietitians served the military as hospital dietists in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. In 1917, during WWI, dietitians and reconstruction aides served as Department of the Army civilians and assisted with the “health and healing” of wounded Soldiers.

After 1926, the term reconstruction aide was discontinued but the work of the physiotherapy and occupational therapy aides continued in military hospitals.

When World War II started, OT, PT, and dietitians again served in a civilian capacity, and some even deployed overseas during the War.

In 1942, OTs, PTs and dietitians were given “relative rank” until in 1944 when they were commissioned as officers in the Medical Department. During this time, each of the professions wore their own distinctive insignia.

Thanks to the work of Congresswomen Margret Smith, Congress passed Public Law 80-36 April 16, 1947, establishing the Women’s Medical Specialist Corps. The corps was established separately from the Medical Service Corps because at that time, the Medical Service Corps was not permitted to commission women.

In 1955, after several attempts in Congress to allow the commissioning of men as medical specialists, the Women’s Medical Specialist Corps was renamed to the Army Medical Specialist Corps and the caduceus became that which we identify with today.  In 1992, the 65Ds, Physician Assistants, were commissioned and became the fourth and final section of the corps.

65A Army Occupational Therapists have the knowledge and skills to benefit the whole Soldier – not just a limb, a cognitive issue, a behavioral issue, or a mental skills issue, but the ability to speak and address performance and recovery issues across all four dimensions; physical, mental, behavioral health and cognitive.

65B Army Physical Therapists continue to be the recognized experts in the evaluation and treatment of non-surgical, neuromusculoskeletal conditions and injury prevention. Evidence-based practice cultivated by Army PTs and the autonomy with which they practice continues to influence change in civilian physical therapy practice throughout the nation. Army PTs serve in a wide variety of assignments, from medical treatment facilities and special operations units to brigade combat teams.

65C Army Dietitians provide proactive nutrition education and programs that support training to better prepare our Soldiers for their specific job tasks in garrison, during training, and in wartime. Dietitians serve as force-multipliers during field operations and in deployed environments, providing interventions across the spectrum of performance nutrition and injury and illness mitigation and recovery. Dietitians evaluate the unit’s training and mission demands, determine appropriate interventions to promote optimal performance, and deliver interventions tailored to each military occupational specialty.

65D Army Physician Assistants serve at the “tip of the spear” for those serving on the line while also ensuring our forces are ready to fight today and are prepared for the rigorous challenges of tomorrow. As Army Medicine continues to transform to meet the ever-changing strategic environment, PAs serve as force multipliers, supporting the warfighter while promoting, improving, conserving or restoring their own behavioral and physical well-being to ensure they are ready to perform during times of peace and conflict. Army PAs transcend the full spectrum of warfighting from the tactical all the way to the strategic level.

To learn more about the AMSC visit https://amsc.amedd.army.mil/ or GoArmy at https://www.goarmy.com/careers-and-jobs/browse-career-and-job-categories/medical-and-emergency/medical-specialist-corps-officer.html.