USA: NHB Recognizes 66th Birthday of MSC

It was just 66 years ago, in 1947 that the Navy’s Medical Service Corps came into being. 

It was in August, yet another tumultuous, chaotic month for much of the world after the end of the Second World War two years earlier. Pakistan and India both gained independence from Great Britain. The Marshall Plan had started Europe on the road to recovery. The communists seized power in Hungary. Food riots over bread prices erupted in France.

It was during that time that four specialist sections of Navy Medicine – Supply and Administration, Optometry, Allied Sciences, and Pharmacy – were combined on August 4 by an act of Congress to form the Navy Medical Service Corps (MSC).

Staff members at Naval Hospital Bremerton gathered on August 2 to recognize the birthday and anniversary of the MSC. Joining them as guest speaker was retired Navy Capt. Richard Becker, who was MSC officer from 1979 to 2005, and his father, special guest, retired Navy Capt. David E. Becker, and MSC officer from 1953 to 1973.

“The MSC director has asked all officers to focus on change and the opportunities ahead. The history of Navy Medicine and the Medical Service Corps is about change and is a very big part of our heritage. We’re all part of that change. Change means new opportunities and challenges. The MSC is well prepared to meet any challenge as we’ve done for 66 years,” said the younger Becker, noting that active and retired MSC officers continue to impact Navy Medicine with their contributions, citing retired Lt. Cmdr. Diana Polizzi of NHB’s Referral Management Center as a prime example.

“Diane works tirelessly behind the scenes and has met the challenges to process referrals and improve system-wide health care delivery to our beneficiaries,” Becker said.

“Happy Birthday Medical Service Corps! As we proudly celebrate the 66th anniversary of the establishment of our Corps, I want to take this opportunity to personally thank you for your service to our country and your significant contributions in support of the Navy Medicine’s global mission,” wrote Rear Adm. T.J. Moulton, Medical Service Corps director, noting that throughout the history of the MSC, extraordinary strides have been made in advancing the administrative, clinical and scientific specialties within Navy Medicine.

“As we reflect on our history and celebrate our Corps birthday, I ask you to focus on change and look toward the many exciting opportunities and challenges that lay ahead. Over the course of our history, we have demonstrated the exceptional capability to adapt to change and succeed at all challenges. The Medical Service Corps has always led from the front and I know that our Corps is exceptionally well prepared for the numerous changes and challenges that lies ahead within Military Medicine,” Moulton added.

MSC history actually dates back to WWII, where 1,429 officers were given temporary appointments in the Hospital Corps and a total of 845 pharmacists, optometrists and other specialists in medicine and dentistry were given temporary appointments as Naval Reserve officers. The two groups emphasized that there was a need for a permanent officer category that back then comprised the Medical Department.

The Army-Navy Medical Service Corps Act of 1947 provided a permanent commissioned corps of specialists to complement the existing Medical Department officer categories. The original legislation provided for the Corps to be comprised of four sections: Supply and Administration, Medical Allied Sciences, Optometry and Pharmacy and authorized the Secretary of the Navy to create other sections, as necessary (such as adding the Podiatry Section in 1953). The Women’s Specialist Section was established in 1952, and in 1965, was re-titled the Medical Specialist Section to permit the appointment of male officers.

There are approximately 2,620 MSC officers on active duty, with another 330 in naval Reserves. The MSC is also the most diverse corps within Navy Medicine, comprised of 31 subspecialties that are organized under three main categories.

Under Healthcare Administration the subspecialties are; Financial Management; Education/Training Management; Patient Administration; Health Care Info System; Manpower, Personnel; Healthcare Facility Planning; Operations Analysis; Plans, Operations and Medical Intelligence; Healthcare Administration; and Material Logistics.

After her initial enlistment as a hospital corpsman, Lt. Jennifer McNabb, NHB Patient Administration department head, applied and was selected to attain on her primary goal of patient administration, a core subspecialty of the Healthcare Administration category.

“I wanted to focus on the business aspect of health care and patient administration and being an MSC officer has given me the opportunity to do just that. I love what we do in that regard,” said McNabb, adding that her defining moment as a MSC office for seven years was when she was part of the pre-commissioning crew on USS Makin Island (LHD 8).

“I really had no idea what I was getting into and learned a lot about the true mission and purpose of our Navy. Being a plank owner was very special.”

Lt. Andrew Rutledge, assistant department head for NHB Patient Administration, also shared that his definitive moment as a MSC officer was serving on USS Truman (CVN 75).

“I got to see firsthand where Navy Medicine fits in the Navy with us out there for the Sailors. I learned so much on there. It was eye-opening and a great Navy experience,” Rutledge said, noting that he chose a MSC career when he was at University of South Florida as a perfect way to put his Master of Health Administration degree to immediate use.

“It was a great opportunity. I got to apply what I learned with the interest I always had in the Navy. What better way to use my education? I’ve learned and grown in six years,” said Rutledge, who has also deployed to Role 3 Hospital at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

The subspecialtiesin the Clinician category are: Audiology; Clinical Psychology; Occupational Therapy; Optometry; Pharmacy; Dietetics; Physical Therapy; Physcial Assistant; Podiatry; and Social Work.

The Scientists category includes such subspecialties as; Entomology; Environmental Health; Industrial Hygiene; Medical Technology; Aerospace Physiology; Aerospace Experimental Psychology; Research Psychology; Radiation Health; Physiology; Microbiology and Biochemistry/Toxicology.

MSC serve in a wide variety of locations, including Navy medical treatment facilities; Naval branch health clinics; Marine Corps battalions; Fleet Marine Force; Seabee detachments; research centers and laboratories; staff positions throughout the Navy and Marine Corps; on ships and at expeditionary medical facilities overseas such as EMF Djibouti.

The primary mission of the MSC community is to support Navy Medicine’s readiness and health benefits mission. The MSC Vision is of one Corps of many specialties meeting today’s needs and tomorrow’s challenges. There was a whimsical readiness challenge at the birthday celebration during the cake cutting. A few MSC officers tried to see if the cake was cut into 66 slices, each piece representing a year in their Corps history.


Press Release, August 5, 2013