WWII heroes in Nurse Corps are honored
Updated: Feb 2, 2022
Some state lawmakers are seeking to recognize as veterans members of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps who served during World War II.
The nurses in the Cadet Nurse Corps were part of the Greatest Generation who served heroically during the war, but they currently aren’t recognized as veterans. A legislative resolution — Senate Joint Resolution 3 — seeks to change that.
About 30 Connecticut lawmakers — including state Sen. Kevin Witkos (R-8th District), state Rep. Leslee Hill (R-Avon-Canton) and state Rep. John Hampton (D-Simsbury) — have supported the resolution, which petitions the U.S. Congress to honor members of the Cadet Nurse Corps as veterans.
“I’m very pleased that this resolution was supported unanimously by the legislature and I was proud to sign on as a co-sponsor," says Witkos, who represents Avon, Canton, Simsbury and several other area towns. "The women of the Cadet Nurse Corps answered the call to service by the thousands. Their contributions should never be overlooked nor forgotten. These women served our nation admirably and with distinction, and their recognition as veterans is long overdue.”
"These women who courageously served our nation deserve recognition.” — State Rep. Leslee Hill
Hampton agrees: “Recognition of women who served in the Cadet Nurse Corps is long overdue. Thousands of women answered the call to duty during World War II with their service in the Corps, and it’s time they are eligible for veterans benefits."
Hill says that an Avon constituent informed her "that the Cadet Nurse Corps are the only uniformed corps members from World War II not to be recognized as veterans. … I hope this can change soon, as these women who courageously served our nation deserve recognition.”
For the Cadet Nurse Corps to be recognized as veterans, federal law needs to be amended. The resolution is a non-binding measure that urges Congress to take action and pass a law on behalf of the corps.
The Cadet Nurse Corps helped fill the void created when nurses were sent overseas to care for soldiers on the front lines, notes Hampton.
"They did so valiantly at hospitals across the U.S.," he says, "but more than 70 years later Cadet Nurses are still not recognized as veterans, so we passed a resolution this year calling on Congress to finally extend the VA benefits they earned in service to their country. My efforts to achieve this recognition will continue until Congress acts."
"Recognition of women who served in the Cadet Nurse Corps is long overdue." — State Rep. John Hampton
Senate Joint Resolution 3 "is asking Congress to step up and recognize Cadet Nurses," affirms a legislative spokesman, who notes that "these women served their country — here in the U.S. — during WWII. By doing so, other nurses were able to serve on the front lines overseas. The Cadet Nurse Corps prevented a shortage of nurses at hospitals around the nation."
If Congress acts, Cadet Nurses would be granted veterans benefits, though not at the same level as active duty military personnel, the spokesman says. The timetable for Congress to pass a potential bill is unknown, according to another spokesman.
At an October ceremony at McLean of Simsbury, two World War II heroes who served in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps were honored: Alice Johnson, a 95-year-old Simsbury resident, and Irene Wilks Walker, who was recognized posthumously and represented by her husband, Ben Walker.
Speakers at the ceremony included Hampton, state Veterans Affairs commissioner Thomas Saadi and Simsbury VFW commander John Fox. Johnson also spoke briefly and expressed appreciation for the honor.
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