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Medical Duties

Recruits entering military service at Fort Snelling were required to take physical and mental exams before they were cleared for duty. The following is an excerpt from an oral history interview with Karina Allen who comments on her work as a medical technician. Think about the following as you read the excerpt and look at the image:

  • What was the main medical service provided to inductees?
  • Why were these initial exams important to the army?

If the doctors at the Induction Center felt that the recruit might have a disabling condition that would make it difficult to stay healthy in a combat zone, he was sent over to the hospital for further tests.  Those going into the paratroopers or who were foreign correspondents would get a more complete exam at the hospital.  Correspondents were usually older and therefore more likely to have health defects that had not been detected yet.  They didn't want to send anyone into a combat area that would drain the medical services needed for combat troops.

There was a day once a month that was devoted to exams for WACs [members of the Women's Army Corps] and nurses.  All the exam areas were cleared of all unnecessary males.  Colonel Guthrie was always around when the women were receiving their physical.  He wanted to be sure they were treated with respect and given as much privacy as possible.

The paratroopers got more extensive physicals.  One thing that was very different about their physicals was they could not have had any broken bone, the reason being that the weakest spot in a bone that was right next to where a bone had been broken at some time in life.  It was felt that the hard landing a paratrooper would make could cause a break next to where the bone had been broken before.


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Servicemen receiving shots, Fort Snelling?


The Starvation Study Medical Care at Fort Snelling Minnesota Home Front Induction Military Intelligence Service Language School