Cathy Osten


Cathy Osten



December 14, 2018

Senator Osten Seeks Federal Recognition for Cadet Nurses and An Official Day for Them in Connecticut

State Senator Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) and four state representatives will introduce a bill in 2019 that asks the federal government to give “veteran” status to the nearly 125,000 cadet nurses who provided medical care to American civilians during World War II.

The bill also seeks to mark June 15 as “Cadet Nurse Corps Day” in Connecticut in order to recognize and honor the service of Connecticut’s cadet nurses.

The desire for federal recognition of the nurses as veterans—with all the federal benefits eligible to them—will be introduced as a non-binding legislative resolution. The bill is being introduced by Sen. Osten and state Representatives Kevin Ryan (D-Montville), John Hampton (D-Simsbury), Kathleen McCarty (R-Waterford) and Mike France (R-Ledyard).

“Two years ago I submitted similar legislation seeking federal recognition for our cadet nurses—who are really an unsung part of America’s great sacrifices during World War II—and it went nowhere. But there has been renewed interest recently on a national level in cadet nurses, and I’m hoping that Connecticut’s push can be part of this broader effort to give these women the recognition and the thanks that they deserve,” said Sen. Osten, who is a U.S. Army veteran. “These nurses are getting older. There’s not a lot of time left to finally do the right thing for them.”

Just this week, it was reported that U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., is co-sponsoring the “U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act,” a federal bill which asks Congress to recognize cadet nurses as veterans. A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the U.S. House by U.S. Reps. Cheri Buston, D-Illinois, and Greg Gianforte, R-Montana.

It is estimated that by the end of the war in 1945, about 125,000 cadet nurses were providing 80 percent of the nursing care in American hospitals while other nurses served overseas.

The United States Cadet Nurse Corps was established by the U.S. Congress on June 15, 1943, and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on July 1, 1943. Its purpose was to ensure the country had enough nurses to care for its citizens at home and abroad during World War II.

The nurse corps was a non-discriminatory program that allowed Native Americans, African Americans, and relocated Japanese Americans to participate. The program was open to women ages of 17 to 35, in good health, who had graduated from an accredited high school. Successful applicants were eligible for a government subsidy that paid for tuition, books, uniforms, and a stipend. In exchange, they were required to pledge to actively serve in essential civilian or federal government services for the duration of World War II.

The American Hospital Association credited the cadet student nurses with helping to prevent the collapse of civilian nursing during the war. The Corps operated from 1943 until 1948: 124,065 women graduated from participating nursing schools, including about 3,000 African Americans, 40 Native Americans, and 400 Japanese Americans. The federal government spent $160 million on the program.