January 16, 2008
U.S. CADET NURSE CORPS
By: Ryan F. O'Neil, Research Assistant
You asked for information about the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps, corps members' benefits, legislation related to the corps, legislative action necessary to give full recognition to Nurse Corps members, a summary of HR 3423, and legislation introduced related to the corps.
Congress created the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps to fill the nursing shortage created by World War II. Former members have no standing with the state or federal veterans' departments. Recent legislation in Congress to change their status has failed.
U.S. NURSE CORPS
In 1943, with no end in sight to World War II, the United States faced a shortage of qualified nurses. Rep. Frances Bolton of Ohio introduced the Nurse Training Act. Congress quickly passed the act and President Roosevelt signed it on June 15. The act set up a program to train women to become nurses quickly. Women qualified for the program if they were between the ages of 17 and 35, were in good health, and graduated with good grades from an accredited high school.
Once accepted into the program, women received a stipend and a scholarship to cover the cost of nursing school and room and board. They were expected to graduate within 30 months.
Nursing schools almost universally qualified for the program. To participate, schools needed to be accredited, affiliated with a hospital, and have adequate staff and facilities. The federal government gave nursing schools aid to help them meet the standards.
By the time the program graduated its last students in 1948, more than 124,000 nurses received training and more than 1,100 of the nation's 1,300 nursing schools participated. Public health historians also credit the program with creating a more academic approach to nursing. Previously, nurses' training resembled apprenticeship - style training. The federal government's investment in nursing schools also had a long-term positive impact on nursing education.
The state's Department of Veterans' Affairs was not able to tell us how many former Cadet Nurse Corps members live in Connecticut. The Office of Fiscal Analysis reports fewer than 100 in the state.
Participants in the Cadet Nurse Corps program have no state or federal benefits aside from their time spent in the Cadet Nurse Corps being credited towards retirement in federal civil service positions.
In order to give former members of the Cadet Nurse Corps state Department of Veterans' Affairs' benefits, the General Assembly would have to amend CGS § 27-103, which defines who is a veteran, to that effect and the governor would have to concur.
H.R. 3423 AND OTHER LEGISLATION
Rep. Nita Lowey of New York introduced H.R. 3423, known as the United States Cadet Nurse Corps Equity Act, on July 3, 2007. The resolution was referred to the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Military Personnel on September 25, 2007. The purpose is to classify service in the Cadet Nurse Corps between July 1, 1943 and December 15, 1945 as active military service. The act requires the Secretary of Defense to issue an honorable discharge to each person whose service qualifies for one. This change in status would give corps members access to services administered by both federal and state's Veterans' Affairs departments.
Rep. Lowey has introduced similar resolutions in many previous sessions of Congress dating back to 1996. Each of the resolutions died in committee.
Several Congressional resolutions have attempted to credit time spent in the Cadet Nurse Corps towards the federal civil service retirement benefit. These resolutions died in committee.
The Cadet Nurse Corps was mentioned in H. Con. Res. 90, a resolution honoring “the dedication and honorable service of members of the Armed Forces who are serving or have served as military nurses.”
No legislation related to the Cadet Nurse Corps has been introduced in the General Assembly at least as far back as 1988.