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Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Archive for the tag “military medicine”

Warrior Transition Leader Medical Rehabilitation Handbook

Warrior Transition Leader Medical Rehabilitation Handbook

(Paper: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/768331035)
(PDF: https://permanent.access.gpo.gov/gpo16387/PDF%20version/WarriorTransition_web.pdf)

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What are some complications associated with amputation?
  • What is the treatment for heterotopic ossification?
  • What are some symptoms associated with spinal cord injury?
  • When can Multiple Sclerosis be a service-connected disability?
  • What is polytrauma?
  • How can cars be modified to allow wounded veterans to keep driving?


From the prologue:

This book provides information about the Army Warrior Transition Command, and key Army, federal agency, Veteran and military service organizations, and selected other organizations, services, and programs that are available to assist wounded, injured, and ill Soldiers and their Families.

Accessible information about essential principles, practices, and definitions in medical rehabilitation is presented. Several vignettes are given about Soldiers who have successfully adapted to their impairments to lead remarkable lives as Soldiers or Army Veterans. Although geared toward nonmedical personnel working with wounded, injured, and ill Soldiers, material of interest to a much broader audience is contained within.

For writers deciding what service-related medical issues to saddle a veteran character with, see chapter 6, “Definitions, Descriptions, and Complications of War-Related Injuries and Illnesses.” The book as a whole has thirteen chapters, followed by “Acronyms and Abbreviations”, “Suggested Reading List” and “Index.”


Textbooks of Military Medicine

Textbooks of Military Medicine – http://www.cs.amedd.army.mil/borden/

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How can lack of sleep contribute to a friendly fire incident?
  • How long can the average person go without sleep and still be effective?
  • How can a prosthetic leg be set up to allow someone to bicycle?
  • How do you decontaminate someone exposed to chemical warfare agents?
  • How does the military measure eye trauma?
  • Where can I get detailed information about decompression sickness?


To get to the textbooks, you’ll need to click on one of the Textbooks of Military Medicine links, which will take you to http://www.cs.amedd.army.mil/borden/Portlet.aspx?id=82200b57-a7a4-4160-bb51-4a086dd6ccce.

This page links to the full text of the textbook series in reverse chronological order by publishing date. To help you focus on topics, here is my effort to group them by topic:



Environmental Aspects


Nuclear/Chemical/Biological Warfare

Physical Injury

Preventive Medicine


Each book is presented as a web page with PDF files for chapters and/or sections. If this format is uncomfortable for you, these books ought to be available through your library, at least through interlibrary loan. Some of the books are available for purchase, others are out of print.

Be warned that some of the volumes have disturbing photographs, as one might expect from medical textbooks.

If you are a regular writer of war stories, I would highly recommend keeping all of these volumes bookmarked or buying as many of the physical volumes as possible.

Office of Medical History (Army)

Office of Medical History (Army) – http://history.amedd.army.mil

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What were some preventative measures taken by the US Army in the American Revolution?
  • When were US soldiers first vaccinated for smallpox?
  • What was considered typical care during the Civil War?
  • What were World War I base camp hospitals like?


This site is divided into a number of sections, but the most helpful will be:

Books and Documents – materials from Revolutionary times to the the Iraq War. Some representative titles are:

  • The Evolution of Preventive Medicine in the United States Army, 1607-1939
  • Medical Men in the American Revolution, 1775-1783 by Louis C. Duncun
  • Thesis: A Study of the Medical Support to the Union and Confederate Armies During the Battle of Chickamauga: Lessons and Implications for Today’s U.S. Army Medical Department Leaders by David A. Rubenstein
  • The U.S. Army Medical Department in the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906
  • Women in the Army Medical Department in World War II
  • Battle Casualties in Korea: Studies of the Surgical Research Team, Volume II, Tools for Resuscitation
  • In Their Own Words: The 498th Air Ambulance Company in Iraq, 2003

Historical Art Work – Captioned images and photographs from WWI through the Iraq War. The Office of Medical History discourages the use of this imagery for commercial or partisan publications, but does not disclose their authority for prohibiting these uses.

Medal of Honor recipients – Short citations of medical personnel awarded the Medal of Honor.

AMEDD Unit Patches and Lineage – Patches and organization histories from Army Medical units.

As you might gather from the title of this resource, it will be most helpful in determining what level of field medicine is available to your military characters in a given period of time.

Navy Medicine Directives

Navy Medicine Directives – http://www.med.navy.mil/directives/Pages/default.aspx

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What is an investigational drug and when will the Navy approve its usage?
  • What is the procedure for handling classified investigational agents?
  • What are the symptoms of Inhalation anthrax?
  • What is the prognosis for Melioidosis?
  • What are some lesser known but deadly agents I can have characters exposed to?


This site has a mix of medical and medical-administrative publications. Use the left hand column to navigation to publications. Clicking on BUMED instructions seems to be the most productive. Some of the more notable publications include:


Check the “Sample Format” section for a whole set of memos and applications that a Navy medical officer might need to fill out.
This site will probably be best utilized in planning what happens to Navy characters. The pest management section might be useful for conventional ships and spaceships.

Navy Medicine (2012)

Navy Medicine (2012) – https://web.archive.org/web/20120715222450/http://www.med.navy.mil/Pages/SiteMap.aspx

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What is the function of a Physical Evaluation Board (PEB)?
  • How is Navy medical insurance handled?

“World Class Care … Anytime, Anywhere” is the motto for Navy Medicine. This page is a 2012 snapshot from the Internet Archive copy of the Navy Medicine sitemap. I’m giving you this instead of the live site because the material below no longer appears findable from it.

From a writing perspective, I think the most valuable feature on this site is:

Case Management Toolkit – A set of 13 lessons designed to orient a new Navy Case Manager in the ways of supporting soldiers and dependents. The lessons may be useful on a number of different subjects:

  • Lesson 1: Naval Case Management 101
  • Lesson 2: Introduction to General Military, Navy and Marine Corps History and Service Culture
  • Lesson 3: Introduction to Current Day Navy Medicine
  • Lesson 4: Tricare 101 and Coordinating with Other Payers
  • Lesson 5: MTF (Military Treatment Facilities) Departments and Key Personnel for Case Management
  • Lesson 6: Disability Evaluation System (DES)
  • Lesson 7: Deployment and Post Deployment Health Clinic Program
  • Lesson 8: Military Pay and Benefits
  • Lesson 9: Commonly Used Resources for Case Managers, Service Members and/or Families
  • Lesson 10: Veterans Affairs
  • Lesson 11: Organizational and Resource Tools for Case Managers
  • Lesson 12: Life Long Learning
  • Lessons 13: Continuous Quality Improvement for Case Managers

These lessons will be very helpful in stories about people being treated by Navy staff or for filling in details of Navy medical characters. Since they are being taken from a snapshot from 2012, you might want to take a phrase from a section you intend to us and run it through your favorite search engine. Or file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the current version of a publication.

Another useful resource on this site is the Navy’s civilian NSPS Position Descriptions (PD’s) which has medical related PDs that go into detail about education needed, typical duties and other job requirements. These would be the documents that would be used in performance appraisals of your civilian Navy characters.  As of December 2013, this page was live but took some digging.A few representative PDs are:

  • 0185-2 Social Worker
  • 0675-2 Medical Records Technician
  • 0680-2 Dentist (Comprehensive)
  • 0610-2 Nurse Anesthetist
  • 0642-2 Nuclear Med Technician

Marine Corps FMST Student Manual – Field Medical Service Technician

Marine Corps FMST Student Manual – Field Medical Service Technician

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How do I treat heel spurs?
  • What is a Needle Thoracentesis and why would I want to perform one?
  • What are the symptoms of radiation exposure?
  • What are the symptoms of various snake bites (envenomation)?
  • What are the risk factors for combat stress?


This manual is divided into the following sections:

  • Block 1 (Concerning basic knowledge of military structure and basic first aid.)
  • Block 2 (Mostly about treating various kinds of injuries.)
  • Block 3 (Concerning diagnosing and treating chemical, biological and radiological warfare casualities.)
  • Block 4 (Triage, urban warfare and casuality evacuation)
  • Block 5 (Combat skills)

Representative manual chapters include: Perform Care of the Feet, Perform Emergency Cricothyroidotomy, Manage Abdominal Injuries, Manage Chemical Agent Casualties, Recognize Combat Stress Disorders and IED.

Marine Corps CREST Student Manual – Chaplain & Religious Program Specialist

Marine Corps MCECST Student Manual – Chaplain & Religious Program Specialist


Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How do I diagnose nerve agent poisoning?
  • How do I administer a nerve agent antidote?
  • What are the symptoms of blister agent poisoning?


Medical training manual for chaplains and other religious program specialists. The manual is divided into the following sections:

  • ANNEX A – USMC Orientation
  • ANNEX B – Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (Not provided online. An administrative overview of this program can be found at http://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Publications/MCO%201500.54A.pdf
  • ANNEX C – Combat Life Saver
  • ANNEX D – Ministry in Combat
  • ANNEX E – USMC Common Combat Skills
  • ANNEX G – Rifle Familiarization

The manual includes chapters on Pastoral Care in a Mass Casualty Situation, Treat Chemical Agent Casualties, M16/ M4 Service Rifle Familiarization and Control Hemorrhage .

Aside from providing basic medical information useful in battlefield stories, the skills described here could easily be incorporated into stories of priests and ministers with surprising skill sets in civilian life. Kind of like Shepherd Book in the Firefly television series.

Marine Corps Combat Lifesaver Course Student Handout

Marine Corps Combat Lifesaver Course Student Handout – http://www.tecom.marines.mil/Portals/131/Docs/cls%20student.pdf

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How do I treat a sucking chest wound?
  • How can I distinguish arterial hemorrhage from venous hemorrhage?
  • How do I distinguish between second and third degree burns?
  • What criteria do I use to triage casualties?
  • In a combat triage situation, what care should be given to someone triaged as “expectant”?


This 137 page PDF file is divided into the following sections:

  • Tactical Combat Casualty Care/CLS Overview
  • Identify Medical Fundamentals
  • Manage Hemorrhage
  • Maintain Casualty Airway
  • Manage Penetrating Chest Injuries
  • Manage Hemorrhagic Shock
  • Manage Burn Casualties
  • Perform Splinting Techniques
  • Administer Battlefield Medications
  • Perform Casualty Movement
  • Perform Combat Lifesaver Triage
  • Perform Combat Lifesaver Care
  • Glossary
  • Appendix A: Combat Life Saver (CLS) Bag – Illustrated listing of bag contents along with possible uses of each item.
  • Appendix B: Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) – Illustrated listing of first aid kit contents along with possible uses of each items.

Detailed instructions for treating various injuries are given. In some cases there are also photos of injuries that some people may find disturbing.

Complex PTSD (Veterans Affairs)

Complex PTSD – https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/ptsd-overview/complex-ptsd.asp

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What types of trauma are associated with Complex PTSD?
  • What does Complex PTSD do to one’s self perception?


This is a simply a factsheet from the National PTSD center. I’m including it here because it provides information on a form of PTSD not usually dealt with in literature or in films. From the website:

Clinicians and researchers have found that the current PTSD diagnosis often does not capture the severe psychological harm that occurs with such prolonged, repeated trauma. For example, ordinary, healthy people who experience chronic trauma can experience changes in their self-concept and the way they adapt to stressful events. Dr. Judith Herman of Harvard University suggests that a new diagnosis, Complex PTSD, is needed to describe the symptoms of long-term trauma (1). Another name sometimes used to describe this cluster of symptoms is: Disorders of Extreme Stress Not Otherwise Specified (DESNOS)(2).

This page includes examples of the situations that appear to contribute to Complex PTSD and a listing of symptoms. There is also a reading list for more information.

Coast Guard Office of Health Services

Coast Guard Office of Health Services – http://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-Commandant-for-Human-Resources-CG-1/Health-Safety-and-Work-Life-CG-11/Office-of-Health-Services-CG-112/

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Is a lack of testicles on a man a disqualification for military service?
  • Can a hermaphrodite join the Coast Guard?
  • What mood disorders can disqualify someone for the Coast Guard?
  • What special precautions does the Coast Guard take for medicating pilots?
  • What are some of the technically legal recreational drugs banned for Coast Guard members?


This office serves as the organization that serves active duty servicemembers. Of the various sections on the site, you’ll find “Medical Publications and Directives” and “Operational Medicine and Medical Readiness (CG-1121)” the most helpful in your stories.

Medical Publications and Directives – If you have Coast Guard characters who are either sick, dead or medical personnel, take some time to study the Medical Manual whose table of contents takes up most of the real estate on the publications page. It is divided into the following sections:

  • Organization and Personnel
  • Health Care and Facilities
  • Physical Standards and Examinations
  • Health Records and Forms
  • Deaths and Psychiatric Conditions
  • Medical Readiness / Deployment Health
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Fiscal and Supply Management
  • Health Services Technician Assigned to Independent Duty
  • Pharmacy Operations and Drug Control
  • Health Care Procurement
  • Occupational Medical Surveillance and Evaluation Program
  • Quality Improvement
  • Medical Information System (MIS) Program

The manual is mostly administrative, but can be valuable in determining what happens to a given Coast Guard character with a given condition. Or who gets told what in case of psychiatric or substance abuse problems.
Once you’ve looked over the main manual, check out the links on the right hand side. They link to a mix of medical and administrative type publications including:

  • Cutter Heat Stress Program (CG)
  • Aeromedical Evacuation, A Guide for Health Care Providers (Joint Pub)
  • Using the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Specimen Repository to Identify Human Remains
  • Antimotion Sickness Medications
  • Coast Guard Weight and Body Fat Standards Program Manual
  • Physical Disability Evaluation System
  • Coast Guard Food Service Manual

Operational Medicine and Medical Readiness (CG-1121) – This office is response for several programs including aviation medicine, medical training and preventive medicine. Documents relating to these programs can be found on these pages, including the Aviation Medical Manual for the Coast Guard.


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