Washington, DC – U.S Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) joined Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Steve Daines (R-MT) in introducing the U.S Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act, bipartisan legislation to honor women who served in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps during WWII with honorary veteran status. The bill, which comes 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 bill will be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-MT).
"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. U.S. Cadet Nurses worked tirelessly to keep America's healthcare system strong, and many went on to work in military hospitals caring for our injured troops. I am proud to cosponsor this meaningful bill, and I encourage my colleagues to join us in honoring U.S. Cadet Nurses."
"On this day in 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor shocked the nation and brought the United States into World War II," said Senator King. "Seventy-seven years later, it is still important to remember the contributions of all Americans who answered the call to serve - including the Cadet Nurses, who saved lives, healed the injured, and in so many ways, helped save our nation."
Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) joined the bipartisan group in recognizing the service of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps.
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.
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.