U.s. Cadet Nurse Corpsby Senator Jeanne Shaheen
Posted on 2014-01-07
SHAHEEN. Madam President, today I wish to recognize the women of
the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps. Approximately 125,000 American women served
as Corps members during World War II, providing comfort and care at
hospitals across the country, including in New Hampshire. Most of the
former Corps members are now in their eighties, and it is incumbent
upon us to ensure that the lessons of their service are remembered for
the benefit of future generations.
In March of 1943, Congresswoman Frances P. Bolton of Ohio, a strong believer in the power of nurses in the healing process, introduced legislation to ensure that the supply of nurses in the United States would be large enough to meet the increasing demands of the war effort, especially as large numbers of experienced nurses left the country to serve overseas. The Bolton Act promised a free nursing education in exchange for a commitment to serve in the Cadet Nurse Corps for the duration of the war.
Driven by the immediate need for more nurses, Corps members worked overtime to finish their studies within a compressed study schedule and began to perform nursing duties even before they had formally graduated. This on-the-job training ensured that civilians and recovering servicemembers continued to receive necessary medical care even as much of the medical community was focused on the war front.
Members of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps took an oath to dedicate themselves to the triumph of life over death at a time when this perpetual struggle took on previously unseen dimensions. Like many of the American soldiers fighting overseas, these women were predominantly young, recent high school graduates who, when confronted with the call to serve their country, [[Page S68]] answered unhesitatingly and in large numbers.
I ask my colleagues in the Senate to join me in thanking all former Cadet Nurse Corps members for their service to the country and for their the selfless commitment to the nursing profession.