Whether clinical or statistical, follow-up studies required the creation of rosters of people with particular diseases and demographic characteristics. Facilitating the creation of these rosters became a priority for Beebe and Ransmeir. If the rheumatic fever study was to be done, for example, it would require the creation of rosters that combined both medical and nonmedical characteristics of individuals. People in the rheumatic fever sample would have to be matched with controls with identical dates and places of induction, and identical training environments. The contemplated study would involve the medical records of up to 9,000 people. These records would have to be culled from the 18 million Army records housed in a federal records center in St. Louis, Missouri, which covered 1.5 million feet of floor space and employed 5,000 people. The Army eventually stationed teams of people working on follow-up studies approved by the NRC in the St. Louis center. Similar logistics had to be worked out with the Navy and the Veterans Administration. Eager to show that they could master their daunting task, Beebe and Ransmeir wanted to launch a pilot study that would locate and resolve the problems in the system of gathering records.19 Traumatic epilepsy and arterial injuries were early candidates for such a study.
All in all, the work of the Committee on Veterans Medical Problems (CVMP) got under way in what the NRC described as a "deliberate and sensible fashion."20 The committee began to receive and pass judgment on research proposals from other NRC advisory committees. Not all of the projects approved were follow-up studies. Some, including a study of group therapy in VA hospitals and clinics, merely happened to be conducted in VA facilities. Often, the follow-up studies that the committee approved came from investigators who had been involved in the committee's creation, as was the case with Barnes Woodhall's work on peripheral nerve injuries or DeBakey's follow-up of arterial injuries in veterans. After the first few years, the proposals came less often from other NRC committees and more often from outside sources such as university medical researchers.21
A project's approval meant little if funds were not available to support it. Almost immediately, the committee encountered problems caused by the uncertainties of federal funding. Although money was available to pay the salaries of Dr. Ransmeir and Dr. Beebe, who carried the respective titles of medical executive and medical statistician, funding for the studies proved more elusive to obtain. At the start of the 1948 fiscal year, the committee learned that extramural research money for the year had already been exhausted and the VA could not guarantee that funds would be available in fiscal year 1949.22 In fact, the NRC had been given only two days to make a request for fiscal year 1948. The VA appealed to the Bureau of the Budget, but the bureau denied the request because of a lack of convincing documentation. Hence, the 1948 federal budget made no specific mention of the CVMP program and contained no provisions for contracts with universities or the NRC. The little money spent on CVMP projects came from a budget item designated for research by VA personnel in VA hospitals.23