April 19, 2021

Cassidy, Warren, Colleagues Reintroduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Honor WWII Cadet Nurses

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) reintroduced 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 would recognize former Cadet Nurses’ service to our country and provide them with honorary veterans status, honorable discharges, a service medal, a burial plaque or grave marker, and other privileges. In Louisiana, Charity Hospital in New Orleans had one of the largest Cadet Nurses Corps programs with over 700 student nurses.

“In light of a shortage of nurses during World War II, women stepped up including hundreds that heeded the call in New Orleans. We owe these veterans a debt of gratitude for their service and the recognition these unsung health care heroes deserve,” said Dr. Cassidy.   

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 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.

Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), and Steve Daines (R-MT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jon Tester (D-MT), John Hoeven (R-ND), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Edward Markey (D-MS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bob Casey (D-PA), John Boozman (R-AR), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) also joined the bipartisan group. The bill will be re-introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Cindy Axne (D-IA), Troy Balderson (R-OH), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Richard Neal (D-MA.), Joseph Morelle (D-NY), Annie Kuster (D-NH), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Jim Cooper (D-TN), David Joyce (R-OH), Lauren Underwood (D-IL), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY).

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;
  • 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 bill has been endorsed by Military Women’s Memorial, the American Nurses Association, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, American Nursing Organization for Nursing Leadership, Organization for Associate Degree Nursing, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, Nurses Organization of Veteran Affairs, Association of Veteran Affairs Nurse Anesthetists, Infusion Nurses Society, Oncology Nursing Society, International Society for Psychiatric Nurses, Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association, Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research, National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, National League for Nursing, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, Association of Public Health Nurses, American Nephrology Nurses Association, Society of Pediatric Nurses, Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses, National Association of School Nurses, Association of Community Health Nurse Educators, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, Association of Nurses in AIDS Care.