Second World War now acquired a new sense of urgency as administrators tried to determine what lessons from the previous war they could apply to the present one.
The outbreak of war added new funding pressures to the program. In particular, Dr. E.H. Cushing of the Veterans Administration wanted to know whether the follow-up program was cost-effective. Accordingly, the Committee on Veterans Medical Problems, now headed by Dr. Wilbert C. Davison, a professor of pediatrics and dean of the medical school at Duke, created an ad hoc committee to investigate the follow-up program's cost and value. The committee included himself, Michael DeBakey (at the time chairman of the department of surgery at Baylor), Dr. Allen O. Whipple of New York's Memorial Hospital, and Herbert Marks of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.40
On January 22, 1951, the ad hoc committee reported to Cushing and Dr. Milton C. Winternitz, chairman of the NRC's Division of Medical Sciences. "All of us have expected concrete, tangible, and useful results from the VA follow-up projects but none of us realized, until the meeting today, how excellent the progress has been and how important the reports are even in their preliminary stage," Davison wrote. He predicted that the VA, the military, and the taxpayers would "all profit enormously" if the program was continued.41
Many findings presented at the meeting illustrated the wide reach of the program; two of the most important concerned hepatitis and schizophrenia. In the hepatitis study, a follow-up of approximately 1,000 survivors of infectious hepatitis revealed no residual or severe liver damage. In the schizophrenia study, the average length of service prior to breakdown was two and a half years. Investigators concluded that the majority of cases could have been detected by adequate study at time of induction.42
In the short run, the findings that mattered most were those that appeared to have relevance to the Korean War situation. Herbert Marks noted that the tuberculosis studies would help the armed forces weed out men who were likely to come down with this disease, reducing the loss of manpower in the field and the costs of pensions and medical care. The studies of peripheral nerve and arterial injuries led to more effective management of these types of casualties in Korea. As DeBakey noted, the finding that there were no long-term consequences of infectious hepatitis once a patient recovered from the disease would affect the determination of disability pensions for both wars. DeBakey admitted that the work was "costly and time-consuming" but noted that "the preliminary reports of some of the studies already provide knowledge that should permit great savings in the operational activities of the Veterans Administration."43
The review of follow-up activities that took place at the beginning of the Korean War enabled the Committee on Veterans Medical Problems and the Follow-up Agency to gain a comprehensive view of the work being undertaken. Each investigator submitted a report that summarized a study's findings and outlined preliminary conclusions. From a study of posttraumatic epilepsy came