WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) joined legislation led by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that would recognize the service of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps. A bipartisan group of senators introduced the U.S Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act, a bill to honor women who served in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps during WWII with honorary veteran status. The bill, which was introduced on Friday on National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, would recognize former Cadet Nurses' service to our country and provide them with honorable discharges, ribbon and medal privileges, and burial privileges.
"The nurses who sacrificed in World War II served their country and earned our eternal gratitude," said Murphy. "This bill rights a wrong, and grants recognition to the Nurse Corps members who saved servicemembers lives and helped them return home."
"Cadet Nurses served our country bravely in World War II, and they deserve our utmost thanks and respect. When our country needed them most, they stepped up to answer the call of duty," said Warren. "Honoring veterans is not a partisan issue; it's something we are all called to do as Americans. I'm proud to introduce the Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act to ensure that Cadet Nurses who served in World War II receive the recognition they deserve."
In the midst of 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 "service in essential nursing for the duration of the war." In total, nearly 120,000 women completed the Corps' rigorous training. Cadet Nurses served in military hospitals, VA hospitals, private hospitals, public health agencies, and public hospitals. In 1944, the Federal Security Agency identified "national recognition for rendering a vital war service" as a privilege of service in the Corps.
Cadet Nurse Elizabeth "Betty" Beecher was one of those 120,000 women. She trained to become a Cadet Nurse in Boston, Massachusetts, 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 veteran's status, with an honorable discharge from service where merited;
- Provide Cadet Nurses with burial benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs; and
- Allow the Secretary of Defense to provide honorably discharged Cadet Nurses with a service medal.
The bill has been endorsed by the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the American Organization of Nurse Executives.
In addition to Murphy and Warren, the bill is supported by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Angus King (I-Maine), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). The bill will be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-MT).
Full text of the resolution can be found here