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Memorandum for the Surgeon General1
September 23, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
I have just been talking to Colonel Truman Smith whose retirement becomes effective today. I am interested in the red tape involved in his retirement and I would like you to look into his particular case as possibly symptomatic of the condition which might be corrected.
He is afflicted with diabetes. This was determined by the Walter Reed authorities in August 1939, or thereabouts. The annual physical examination in January 1940 and again in January 1941 recommended that he be sent before a retirement board.
The problem was on what status we should continue to use his services in the War Department, and I suspended action on the retirement proceedings until the middle of last July and then directed that the recommendations from the annual physical examinations be carried out. Here is a case of a Regular Army officer who has a clear case of diabetes, who was not fighting for retirement nor was he fighting against retirement, there would seem to be no financial hazard to the Government involved.
Since my direction in the matter, of July, to go ahead with Colonel Smith’s retirement, well over two months have elapsed during which he has had three more physical examinations which have involved your doctors and your record people and have accumulated quite a mass of papers.
Please look into this and see if there are not circumstances under which your people could handle cases like this expeditiously and help all of us. I fully understand how careful you must be in the case of a citizen-soldier who is looking to retirement status for financial reasons and in the case of a regular officer who is fighting retirement, and I recognize that there must be a certain routine manner of handling such cases, but can’t you evolve some more simplified procedure for cases regarding which there is no debate.2
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, General Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. Major General James C. Magee had been the surgeon general since June 1,1939.
2. The editors have not found the surgeon general’s reply.
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 616-617.