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Military Medical History

Military medicine has a long and celebrated history. We apply lessons from our past to improve the care of military personnel and their families today and in the future. New surgical techniques, powerful painkillers, antibiotic drugs, and triage and evacuation procedures have revolutionized military medicine.

In this section, you'll find featured stories and information about the history of military medicine.

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'America’s First Brain Surgeon' Served During Civil War and World War I

Article
5/17/2022
Dr. William Williams Keen Jr was a medical surgeon during the Civil War who afterwards advocated and researched medical advances so the horrors of Civil War-era medicine would not occur again. He also served in the Army during World War I.

The Army’s Dr. William Williams Keen helped to shape military medicine for more than 50 years – from the Civil War to World War I.

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Military Medical History

Military Medical Museum Celebrates 160th birthday with mobile app

Photo
5/17/2022
Military Medical Museum Celebrates 160th birthday with mobile app

National Museum of Health and Medicine, Silver Spring, Maryland, visitor uses the NMHM mobile app while looking at objects from the Innovations in Military Medicine Gallery.

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Military Medical History

Vietnam War Commemoration Presents DHA Director with Commemorative Flag

Article
4/28/2022
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ron Place, Defense Health Agency director, receives a commemorative Vietnam War flag from Army Maj. Gen. (Retired) Peter Aylward, The United States of America Vietnam Commemoration director. (Photo: Sonia Clark, MHS Communications)

Lt. Gen. Place receives Vietnam War commemorative flag.

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Military Medical History

A History of the Combat Helmet and the Quest to Prevent Injuries

Article
4/25/2022
Lt. Gen. George S. Patton and Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. are pictured here in 1943 wearing the standard M1 helmet, sometimes called the "steel pot." (Photo: 1st Infantry Division Courtesy Photo)

The combat helmet has evolved over time to improve protection against projectiles and shock waves to reduce the risk of fatal blows and traumatic brain injuries.

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Traumatic Brain Injury | Military Medical History

Ceremony Marks New Name for RIA Health Clinic to Woodson Health Clinic, Honoring World War II Combat Medic

Article
4/21/2022
Stephen Woodson looks at the plaque painting of his father, Staff Sgt. Waverly Woodson Jr., a World War II First U.S. Army combat medic hero, following the unveiling of it during a renaming dedication ceremony at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, April 14. The health clinic was renamed Woodson Health Clinic. (Photo: Jon Micheal Connor, ASC Public Affairs)

The Rock Island Arsenal Health Clinic received a new name in honor of a heroic First U.S. Army Soldier in a moving ceremony here in Heritage Hall April 14. The new name is the Woodson Health Clinic in honor of Staff Sgt. Waverly B. Woodson Jr.

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Military Medical History

Women's History Month highlight: All-women medic team supports mission welcoming Afghan allies

Article Around MHS
4/5/2022
Military personnel taking a walk

In late August 2021, the Department of Defense issued a call for volunteers to support Operation Allies Welcome, the federal government’s effort to safely resettle Afghan refugees.

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Military Medical History

Remembering Dr. Alexander Augusta, the U.S. Army’s First Black Doctor

Article
2/25/2022
A photo of Maj. (Dr.) Alexander Augusta among the Seventh Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops where he served as regimental surgeon during the Civil War.

Dr. Alexander Augusta was the first African American to be an Army doctor.

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Military Medical History | Paving the Way for African Americans in Military Medicine: A Look Across Time

Dentally Unready: Gen. George Washington's Lifetime of Dental Misery

Article
2/3/2022
Visitors to the George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate and museum in Mount Vernon, Virginia, can see George Washington’s only remaining full denture among the collection. They include his own pulled and saved teeth, other human teeth, teeth from cows and horses that were filed to fit, and teeth carved from elephant ivory.

No, George Washington did not have wooden teeth. But he did struggle with dental problems for most of his life.

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Military Medical History | TRICARE Dental Care | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

The British 'Limeys' Were Right: A Short History of Scurvy

Article
1/10/2022
Scurvy, a disease caused by lack of vitamin C, sickened sailors who had no access to fresh food supplies, and killed more than 2 million sailors between the 16th and 18th centuries alone.

How citrus fruits quelled the scourge of scurvy.

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Health Readiness | Nutritional Fitness | Military Medical History

Remembering the Military Medical Heroes of Pearl Harbor

Article
12/6/2021
Army Nurse Corps Maj. Annie G. Fox, in the newspaper

On the 80th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, MHS remembers the medical heroes that selflessly aided the casualties.

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Military Medical History | MHS Honors and Remembers

From Prosthetic Legs to Cranial Implants: How the MHS is using 3D Tech

Article
11/8/2021
3D MAC Director Peter Liacouras

30 years after the Gulf War, 3D technology is transforming medicine and lives.

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Military Medical History | Technology

USU Students Examine Civil War History to Understand the Future of Medicine

Article Around MHS
9/22/2021
Nearly 300 students from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences participated in a 30-year-old-tradition of marching through the battlefield of Antietam on Aug. 20

During the Battle of Antietam, Union Major Jonathan Letterman implemented his ideas for reshaping the Army’s Medical Corps, earning him the nickname the “Father of Battlefield Medicine.”

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Military Medical History | Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Gen. George Washington Ordered Smallpox Inoculations for All Troops

Article
8/16/2021
Old photo of George Washington in battle

George Washington’s tactics included directing the first mass military inoculations

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Military Medical History | Immunizations

How Spec Ops and DHA Teamed Up to Build an Inexpensive DIY Ventilator

Article
7/28/2021
Nurse checks up on a patient in a mechanical ventilator

Military inventiveness is seen in the history of ventilators

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Military Medical History

MHS and MOS Town Hall: Virtual Tour

Article
7/27/2021
Infographic for the Town Hall

MHS and Military OneSource To Your Health presents a virtual Field Trip to The National Museum of Health and Medicine.

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Military Medical History | National Museum of Health and Medicine
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