Today the cadet nurses, now in their 90s, may get what some say is overdue recognition.
“This is my cape.. nurses cape,” said Kay Kingsley.
Kay Kingsley was 17 when she joined the Cadet Nurse Corps.
“It was a training program,” said Emily Schacht.
And so was Emily Schacht. They are now 92.
“At that period, it was in the middle of the war. There was a big shortage of nurses in this country and so the Bolton Act was signed,” said Schacht.
The year was 1943 and many of the civilian nurses had been called up to work in military hospitals.
“There were hospitals closing or threatening to close because they just couldn’t staff them,” said Schacht.
So the country put out the call to young women to train to become nurses and 180,000 answered.
“You worked very hard. We didn’t realize how hard we were working. It was just expected of you,” said Kingsley.
During the war, 80 percent of the nursing care in civilian hospitals was done by cadet nurses. And they had as many as 50 to 100 patients each.
Just as this is National Nurses Week, these cadet nurses would like to see a day established to honor their service as part of proposed legislation. They’d like to see that happen not only so their story is known today but for generations to come.
“I think it would mean that yeah somebody noticed what we did and that what we did was really as important as we thought it was,” said Schacht.
Proposed legislation looks to provide recognition of their legacy…
“We were all trying to do something you know to help the country out. If that’s what I could do, I was glad to do it,” said Kingsley.
As well as other accommodations given to veterans like burial rights and service medals.
“We were under the Department of Public Health which during war time becomes a military program,” said Schacht..
But they say their service is not recognized as such. Although they did get to go to the USO shows on Broadway.
“The USO did. I don’t know about other people,” said Schacht..
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