During World War I, the number of civilian dietitians employed for Army hospital service
reached a maximum of 356. In 1940, 55 dietitians were working for the Army as
civilians employed in the classified civil service. This number quickly rose to 1,633
when the US entered World War II.
b. Occupational therapists, originally called "reconstruction aides," were first
employed by the Army in 1918 with the American Red Cross recruiting their services.
At peak strength in World War I, there were 455 civilian OTs with the Army. This
number dropped to 12 by 1940. When the US entered World War II, the number rose to
899. Like the dietitians, these specialists were members of the classified civil service.
c. Physical therapists (also called "reconstruction aides" during their first
employment as civilians) were recruited by the American Red Cross for service with the
Army during World War I. Their peak strength during that war was 748, which dropped
by 1940 to 37. The entrance of the US into World War II marked the growth of
employment to a peak of 1,580. The PTs, too, were members of the classified civil
d. In 1942, relative rank was granted to the civilian dietitians and physical
therapists working for the Army,
e. In 1947, the Army-Navy Nurse Act established the Women's SP with Regular
Army Status for those classified civil service dietitians, physical therapists, and
occupational therapists that accepted commissions.
f. Male specialists in dietetics, PT, and OT were authorized Reserve
commissions in the Corps in 1955. The name of the Corps was changed to the Army
SP in that same year. In 1966, Regular Army status was authorized for male members
of the Corps.
3-48. DUTIES OF ARMY MEDICAL SPECIALIST CORPS OFFICERS
a. The primary duties of Army SP officers are those directly related to the
specialties of dietetics, PT, and OT as practiced by the respective civilian professions,
including the development and adoption of principles and standards to meet the total
needs of military patients in these specialized fields. Physical therapists, occupational
therapists, and dietitians are assigned to all medical centers. At least one dietitian and
one physical therapist are assigned to each US Army community hospital.
Occupational therapists serve only in the larger US Army community hospitals. The
fixed TOE hospitals have specialists in all three areas authorized. The mobile and
semi-mobile TOE hospitals do not.
b. The chief of the SP is appointed by the Secretary of the Army for a four-year
term. There are three assistant chiefs of the corps, each representing one of the three
professional specialties. The chief of each specialty section serves as consultant in his
specialty to TSG.