Celebrating a Century of Medical Service for Our Troops
It all began as an effort to protect and preserve our Soldiers.
During the Revolutionary War, the first "Army Hospital" was established to care for members of the Continental Army. This notable endeavor served as the impetus for what is known today as the U.S. Army Medical Department, or AMEDD. Led by the Army Surgeon General, the AMEDD stands as the Army's healthcare organization, falling under the direction of the U.S. Army Medical Command.
Currently, the AMEDD manages six special officer branches: Dental Corps, Medical Corps, Medical Service Corps, Medical Specialist Corps, Nurse Corps, and the Veterinary Corps. In 2017, the Medical Service Corps celebrated its 100th anniversary – and its illustrious history is tied to the current mission of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, Fort Detrick, Maryland.
As a subordinate command of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, USAMMDA is tasked with developing and delivering quality medical capabilities to protect, treat and sustain the health of Service Members throughout the world. The organization works to create new drugs, vaccines and medical support equipment to provide readiness solutions for Warfighters, their families and Military Medicine.
It has been said that the history of the Medical Service Corps is evolutionary. Initially established as the Sanitary Corps in 1917 during World War I, the group of approximately 3,000 personnel consisted of administrative, technical and scientific officers with various duties. Although demobilized after the war, in 1920 a new branch was established, called the Medical Administrative Corps. This division grew exponentially during World War II, increasing from less than 100 officers to more than 22,000. In 1943, the Pharmacy Corps was established; however, in 1947, the Sanitary, Administrative and Pharmacy Corps became the Medical Service Corps (MSC).
As stated by Col. (Ret.) Richard Van Ness Ginn in his book, The History of the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps, "[MSC personnel] provide the administration, planning, programming and budgeting of every Army Medical Department effort. They maintain the Army's wartime medical capability through command of its field medical establishment. They operate what may be the most effective logistical system anywhere. In countless ways, the men and women of the Medical Service Corps are at the forefront of the Army Medical Department's humanitarian role in national defense."
Clearly, the MSC remains a necessary component in helping our Warfighters navigate the current military landscape to remain ready at all times.
Col. Ryan Bailey, USAMMDA commander, is among the many MSC personnel serving at USAMMDA.
"I am honored to be a part of the Medical Service Corps, which is comprised of passionate professionals who strengthen our Military Health System through their service to the Army Medical Department, the Army, and the Department of Defense," said Bailey. "USAMMDA has a long history of developing medical products designed to protect and preserve the lives of Warfighters. The unit's success relies heavily on the expertise of our personnel. We have 13 MSC Soldiers from four different Areas of Concentration that apply their scientific and acquisition acumen to help deliver medical materiel solutions to our Warfighters."
As stated by Bailey, the USAMMDA team currently has 13 Soldiers assigned to the MSC. Joining him on this roster are Maj. Armand Balboni, Maj. Katherine Carr, Lt. Col. Stefan Fernandez, Maj. Baishali Kanjilal, Lt. Col. Matos Pizarro, Capt. Amanda Roth, Maj. Mabel Salas, Lt. Col. Kara Schmid, Capt. Amber Smith, Maj. Jonathan Stallings, Lt. Col. Michael Yapp, and Maj. Victor Zottig.
As a former product manager in USAMMDA's Pharmaceutical Systems Project Management Office, Maj. Salas played a vital role in the advanced development of an experimental anti-malarial drug to enhance the survivability and sustainability of our military forces by preventing and treating malaria in deployed personnel. Currently, Salas is deputy branch chief in the Office of Quality Management.
Regardless of her role, she is keenly aware of the importance of USAMMDA's MSC personnel.
"Our MSC Soldiers contribute to the Corps' mission by managing the advanced development of a variety of medical products that protect our Warfighters from infectious diseases and help to sustain combat trauma using surgery and burn capabilities, and by providing the equipment necessary to move the injured from point-of-injury to Role 3 or Role 4 facilities (i.e. full-care medical treatment facilities and hospitals)," said Salas.
"Many of our MSCs serve as product managers for the PSPMO, Neurotrauma and Psychological Health PMO and the Division of Regulated Activities and Compliance," she continued. "The team contributes to the overall mission of the MSC by closing capability gaps and researching products that follow the acquisition of medical products from advanced development to licensure."
Recently joining the USAMMDA team is Maj. Katherine Carr, PSPMO assistant product manager. Although new to USAMMDA, Carr is very familiar with the ongoing mission of the MSC, and she certainly understands the overlapping functions of both groups.
"Medical Service Corps officers have the ability to see some unique pieces of the Army medical mission across many disciplines," explained Carr. "As a scientist in the MSC, I've had the opportunity to conduct bench research to develop new medical products in a military research laboratory, contribute to patient care in a clinical laboratory setting, and serve as part of a preventive medicine mission in a deployed environment."
"At USAMMDA," she continued, "I have the opportunity to help facilitate the delivery of emerging medical products to the Warfighter. These products are often developed in military research laboratories, bringing my career experience full circle. I'm grateful for the diverse experiences that being part of the MSC offers."
The thoughts and perspectives of Bailey, Salas and Carr are definitively echoed by the other MSC personnel serving at USAMMDA – and all certainly appreciate the significance of the MSC for our nation's Warfighters. In fact, Lt. Col. Stefan Fernandez is quick to note the MSC's importance to Army Medicine as a whole. As a PSPMO product manager, Fernandez places great value on the work of the MSC.
"As an MSC officer for the past 14 years, I have been serving at USAMMDA for just over two years," said Fernandez. "The Medical Service Corps is a very diverse group, and I believe that its officers make possible everything Army Medicine does. My career as an MSC Soldier has been dedicated, almost entirely, to developing critical solutions to close gaps in our medical capabilities. I am proud to be part of a specialized group that helps to shape the future of Army Medicine."
Without question, the enthusiasm and contributions of USAMMDA's MSC personnel serve as a shining example of the Corps' importance over the past century. The focused commitment of these outstanding men and women is a valuable asset to USAMMDA and its critical mission to help maintain the health and readiness of our Warfighters across the globe. With the support of our MSC Soldiers, USAMMDA remains the premier developer of world-class military medical capabilities and will continue to provide crucial products, drugs and devices that help bolster our nation's military forces.