Warren, Lawler, Lawmakers Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill Honoring WWII Cadet Nurses
Nearly 120,000 Women Served Country as Nurse Cadets During WWII
Washington, DC – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Steve Daines (R-Montana) and Angus King (I-Maine) and U.S. Representatives Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Chris Deluzio (D-Pa.), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) reintroduced the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act, a bill honoring women who served in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps during WWII with honorary veteran status. The bill would recognize former Cadet Nurses' service to the country and provide them with honorary veterans status, honorable discharges, a service medal, a burial plaque or grave marker, and other privileges.
“When our nation faced a shortage of nurses during World War II, women across our country took action and joined the Cadet Nurses Corps to give service members and the public the care they needed,” said Senator Warren. “I am glad to re-introduce legislation to recognize the crucial service that Cadet Nurses gave to our country.”
"Whether in a hospital or overseas on a military base, nurses work on the front lines of patient care in a wide variety of health care settings and serve as critically important advocates for patients and their families," said Senator Collins. "The U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps played a vital role in WWII, addressing a critical shortage of nurses during the War and providing women with an expedited nursing education in exchange for their health care services. I encourage my colleagues to join us in honoring U.S. Cadet Nurses."
“Montanans are proud of the women who served in the Cadet Nurse Corps. These women put our country first and were an integral part of our victories,” said Senator Daines. “That’s why I am introducing bipartisan legislation to recognize their selfless service and give them the veteran status they rightfully earned.”
“From the Western Front and back to stateside, America’s nurses in WWII saved countless lives and played an integral part in our victory over fascism,” said Senator King. “The brave, barrier-breaking women of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps put their own lives on the line to defend our freedoms. These heroes are well deserving of honorary veteran status, and I hope this bill can help recognize their service, sacrifices, and patriotism.”
“It is my great honor to introduce the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act of 2023 alongside a bipartisan coalition of co-sponsors in both the House and Senate. This legislation will honor the vital work of Cadet Nurses during WWII, provide them the honors they are due, and forever enshrine their legacy in the collective memory of our nation," said Representative Lawler.
“Members of the United States Cadet Nurse Corps served our nation bravely during World War II, and they deserve federal recognition for their contributions,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “I’m proud to co-sponsor this bipartisan, bicameral legislation to honor these American heroes.”
“Cadet nurses were a critical part of America’s World War II effort and ultimate victory,” said Representative Deluzio. “While they used instruments of medicine instead of weapons in their fight, they still made enormous sacrifices in their service and deserve recognition. I am proud to join Representative Lawler to introduce the United States Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act of 2023 to grant them honorary veteran status and other benefits.”
“The efforts of women who served in WWII are often overlooked, discounted, or relegated to a lower status," Norton said. "I'm pleased to co-lead this bill to honor the brave women in the Cadet Nurse Corps. They served our country in uniform, and it's time our country gives them the recognition they deserve."
“AACN applauds the introduction of the United States Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act of 2023, which celebrates the nurse heroes who nobly served our country during World War II,” said Dr. Cynthia McCurren, Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. “This national recognition is long overdue, and we are grateful to our champions in the House and the Senate who have made this a priority.”
“Members of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps embodied the bravery of the ‘greatest generation,’ and we are proud to see this legislation honor their lifetime of service," said Dr. Deborah Trautman, President and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. “We look forward to working with Congress to see this bipartisan effort passed into law."
“The Cadet Nurses answered the call of duty during a time of great need,” said American Nurses Association President Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. “By addressing a critical shortage of nurses during World War II, the Cadet Nurse Corp ensured that Americans maintained access to health care throughout the yearslong conflict. ANA is proud to support this bill, which honors and recognizes the extraordinary contributions that the women of the United States Cadet Corps made to their country.”
During WWII, a severe shortage of trained nurses threatened the nation's ability to meet domestic and military medical needs. In response, Congress established the Cadet Nurse Corps, an integrated, uniformed service of the Public Health Administration, in 1943. The Cadet Nurse Corps provided young women with expedited nursing education in exchange for "essential military or civilian nursing for the duration of the war." In 1944, the Federal Security Agency identified "national recognition for rendering a vital war service" as a privilege of service in the Corps.
In total, nearly 120,000 women completed the Corps' rigorous training. Cadet Nurses served in military hospitals, VA hospitals, Marine hospitals, private hospitals, public health agencies, and public hospitals until the program ended in 1948.
Cadet Nurse Elizabeth "Betty" Beecher was one of those 120,000 women. She trained to become a Cadet Nurse in Boston, Massachusetts, and then served as a nurse at a Staten Island, N.Y., marine hospital near the end of WWII. "We prevented a total collapse of the health care system," she said. "Had we not stepped up and volunteered and enlisted in the Corps, I'm afraid the country would have been demoralized and our boys would have come home to a sick country."
The U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act would:
- Provide Cadet Nurses with honorary veteran status, with an honorable discharge from service where merited and;
- Permit the Secretary of Defense to provide honorably discharged Cadet Nurses with a service medal, a burial plaque or grave marker, and other commendations to honor their service.
The legislation would not provide still-living Cadet Nurses with Veterans Affairs pensions, healthcare benefits, or other privileges afforded to former active-duty service members, such as burial benefits in Arlington Cemetery.
Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) also joined the bipartisan group. The bill will be reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Chris Deluzio (D-Pa.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), and Diana Harshbarger (R-Tenn.).
The bill is endorsed by the Military Women’s Memorial, the American Nurses Association, and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
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