The sanitarian profession had its formal beginning during periods of war. Our art and science was formally introduced during the Crimean War by Florence Nightingale, who was an English social reformer, statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. Environmental health in the military was taken seriously and introduced by the U.S. Sanitary Commission, a private relief agency that supported the Army of the Potomac during the U.S. Civil War.
When the U.S. entered World War I, the Medical Department required officers who were neither physicians, dentists, or veterinarians. This requirement resulted in the formation of the Sanitary Corps on June 30, 1917.
The officer “S” collar insignia above are from World War I and II. The collar insignia on the top were made in France for the U.S. forces in Europe in 1918. The collar insignia on the bottom were worn during World War II and were made by the A.E. Co. These pins have a Ballou clutch pin backing, which was introduced in 1942 and supplanted the older post and screw backs for pins in the postwar era.