Army Enlisted Medical Corps Celebrates 127 Years
February 28, 2014
By Ann Bermudez
The U.S. Army Medical Command celebrated the historic beginning of the Army Enlisted Medical Corps today at the U.S Army Medical Department Museum, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
For 127 years, the Army Enlisted Medical Corps has provided quality care and selfless service to Soldiers, Retirees and Family members on the home front and on the battlefield.
"Although we celebrate the 127th anniversary of the Hospital Corps on the day it was established, the 1st of March, it certainly did not mark the beginning of the Enlisted Corps' role in the Army Medical Department," said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Sandra Townsend the 14th Medical Command, Command Sergeant Major.
"The training, pay and responsibilities, and organizational structure of the enlisted medical personnel in the Army has changed over the years, the mission to conserve the fighting strength has not," said Townsend. "Our medics continue to be on the front line of Army medical care and play an integral and valued role in the United States Army. They uphold the standards that were set over 127 years ago, and ensure our beneficiaries receive the best healthcare possible."
There are currently more than 36,000 Soldiers in the Army Enlisted Medical Corps, with 17 military occupational specialties for these Soldiers.
"The Army Enlisted Medical Corps is the best in the world," said Command Sgt. Maj. Donna Brock, MEDCOM Command Sergeant Major. "I am so proud of the uniform and of all AMEDD Soldiers."
Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, Army Surgeon General and Commanding General, U.S. Army Medical Command said that it is important to take time to recognize Enlisted Medical Corps Soldiers.
"Medics have been at every conflict at the forefront and tip of the spear," said Horoho. "They are an important component of and the backbone of Army Medicine."
The Army Enlisted Medical Corps Soldiers contribute to today's overall 90 percent survivability rate for combat-injured service members and are an invaluable asset in the health care process. They keep our Soldiers, Retirees and Families healthy, said Horoho.
"I encourage our NCOs to make the time to ensure their Soldiers are taught this history so that our legacy is passed on," Townsend said.
In 1847, the U.S. Army Surgeon General had asked Congress several times to authorize positions for Hospital Stewards and he would set up a formal school to train them; however, his requests were turned down.
The Army supported his efforts and in 1851 issued an addendum to the Regulations for the Uniform and Dress of the U.S. Army that authorized a "Half Chevron" consisting of a green background with yellow trim and a Caduceus to denote the rank of the Hospital Steward.
Finally in 1856, Congress authorized the Secretary of War to appoint as many Hospital Stewards as needed in the Army and mustered onto the hospital rolls as "NCO's." This action permanently attached the stewards to the Medical Department.
On March 1st, 1887, the Hospital Corps was finally established. "New Chevrons" denoting the ranks of the Hospital Stewards were introduced similar to the chevrons worn by all NCO's in the Army. Hospital Stewards wore full sized chevrons that had three stripes below and one on top with a Red Cross in the center. Acting Hospital Stewards wore the same chevrons except for the stripe on top. Privates of the Hospital Corps wore the "white arm band with a Red Cross" and this date is considered the "Anniversary of the Hospital Corps."