Jump to content

How the U.S. Cadet Corps Changed Nursing History

Nurses Article   (515 Views 2 Replies 903 Words)

Brenda F. Johnson has 27 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Gastrointestinal Nursing.

5 Followers; 74 Articles; 104,971 Profile Views; 254 Posts

Nurses Changing US History

Nurses have had an intimate part of shaping America’s history. We, as nurses, have participated in every aspect of our communities by helping, teaching, and serving our patients. One group of nurses that we haven’t heard much about is the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps. formed in 1943.

How the U.S. Cadet Corps Changed Nursing History

The second World War drained the hospitals, health agencies, and schools of nurses by about 30% according to Liz Eberlain in her article, “Making a Difference: The U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps”. This created a nursing shortage that threatened the future of the country as well as the war. After the war was over, nurses would be needed for the continued treatment of the soldiers and their families.

Labor - Federal Security Appropriations Act, 1942

The House of Representatives and Congress put together a Code, addressing the labor and other needs of the United States due to World War II called “Labor - Federal Security Appropriations Act, 1942”. Among this Code was a law that communicated how federal money would be used to recruit nurses. The demand for nurses had become critical and the medical community would have collapsed under the great need for nurses during and after the war. This code also dropped discriminatory practices by allowing any race, color, or creed to apply (An Act Making Appropriations for the Department of Labor the Federal Security, 1942). The code focused on High School graduates between the ages of 17 and 35. These students could be trainees, student nurses, or post-graduate nurses; it even offered refresher courses for nurses who had not been working due to retirement or having children. 

Recruitment

Recruitment efforts were widespread using leaflets, posters, newspapers, parades, even Hollywood made short films and advertisements to encourage enlistment. (Below is a link to one of these short films) High schools hung the posters in their hallways to encourage new graduates to enlist, and parents were promised that their daughters would be safe and taken care of.

These young women would receive a monthly stipend along with free tuition to nursing school. The nursing program was pushed from 36 months to 30 months in order to expedite their graduation (Eberlein, 2019). However, the $5 million allocated to get the program going was not enough. The forward thinking congresswoman, Frances P. Bolton initiated the bill called the “Bolton Act” that asked for the establishment of a governmental program that would give grants to nursing schools to enable the training of nurses (Eberlein, 2019). Her bill passed on July 1, 1943, giving $65 million in the first year to nursing schools across the country (Eberlein, 2019). 

Several things happened that year to further the nursing profession. One was that the cadet program was put under the Public Health Services who answered to the Surgeon General (Eberlein, 2019). The Surgeon General at that time was Tomas Parran who appointed Lucille Petry, RN over the new Division of Nurse Education (Eberlein, 2019). The birth of return demonstration teaching began during this time, changing how nurses are taught forever. Altogether, the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps recruited 124.000 women. 

Recognition

The reason that The United States Cadet Nurse Corps has made it back into the public eye recently, is because they are asking for more “formal recognition” for the women who served in the corps, according to the article, “Recognition ‘Now or Never’ For U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps of World War II”, by Jill Kaufman (2019). Many of these nurses have now passed away, but the lobbying for the government to acknowledge the nurse corps is still going on. These nurses began working towards receiving full veteran’s benefits in the 70s, but have not been successful. More recently, Barbara Poremba, a nursing teacher has initiated a bill called “Honorary Veterans” that would offer the member of the nursing corps burial benefits (Kaufman, 2019). The U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act would recognize the women who served by giving them honorable discharges, the above-mentioned burial services, and ribbon and medal privileges (Scheible, 2019). 

These women went overseas, some were even captured by the Japanese, others worked in the states, and they all served our country. They worked under the conditions of war, and continued to serve after the war was over. They deserve at least the proposed privileges. A couple of those women, now in their 90s are Elizabeth “Betty” Beecher of Weymouth, who is now 95, and Emily Schacht from Waterford, Connecticut and is 92 years old. We honor them among our nurses’ community.

Have you known a nurse who served in the corps, or know a story about it, please share with the allnurses community.

To see a recruitment film, click on the link below:

The CriticalPast: The need for cadet nurses and young girls to volunteer for military nursing service during World War II.


References

An Act Making Appropriations for the Department of Labor the Federal Security. (1942). Labor-Federal Security Appropriations Act, 1942. Retrieved from: Library of Congress

Eberlein, L. (2019). Making a Difference: The U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps. National Women’s History Museum: Making a Difference: The U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps

Kaufman, J. (2019). Recognition ‘Now or Never’ for U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps of World War II. New England Public Radio.  Retrieved from: Recognition 'Now Or Never' For U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Of World War II

Scheible, S. (2019). Military.com. Retrieved from: Lawmakers Renew Bid to Honor US Cadet Nurses

Brenda F. Johnson, BSN, RN Specialty: 25 years of experience in Gastrointestinal Nursing

5 Followers; 74 Articles; 104,971 Profile Views; 254 Posts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stephany Tatman Maitland specializes in Med surgery, PACU, long term care.

1 Post; 10 Profile Views

My mother Doris Bernadine Drake went through the program and became a Cadet Nurse. Afterwards she worked at the VA hospital in Dayton, Ohio. My father Raymond William Tatman was a patient there after being wounded and contracting malaria in the South Pacific during WWII. My parents met when Mom was assigned to care for Dad at the Va. They began dating after he was discharged from the hospital and were married about a year later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brenda F. Johnson has 27 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Gastrointestinal Nursing.

5 Followers; 74 Articles; 254 Posts; 104,971 Profile Views

On 9/11/2019 at 1:02 PM, Stephany Tatman Maitland said:

My mother Doris Bernadine Drake went through the program and became a Cadet Nurse. Afterwards she worked at the VA hospital in Dayton, Ohio. My father Raymond William Tatman was a patient there after being wounded and contracting malaria in the South Pacific during WWII. My parents met when Mom was assigned to care for Dad at the Va. They began dating after he was discharged from the hospital and were married about a year later.

That is so cool!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
×