In the summer of 1941, six months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Emma Vogel — who began her Army career as a reconstruction aide, was trained by Mary McMillan at Reed College in Oregon, and was a founding figure in the physical therapy profession — initiated the first War Emergency Training Course of World War II at Walter Reed General Hospital. The course consisted of six months of concentrated “didactic” instruction to be followed by six months of supervised practice at a military hospital. Ten students were enrolled in the first session. Because it was obvious that a program capable of turning out far larger numbers of prepared physical therapists was needed, similar courses were started by Vogel proteges in numerous locations across the country.
In an appeal to patriotism and adventure, a blitz of posters, magazine articles, movie shorts, and pamphlets was generated by APA, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, the American Red Cross, and a host of other service organizations. By early 1942 150 APA members had volunteered to serve in the war effort.