04.16.21

Daines, Tester Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Honor Montana WWII Cadet Nurses

U.S. SENATE —U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester today reintroduced the bipartisan “U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act” to honor women who served in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps during WWII with honorary veteran status.

“The women of the United States Cadet Corps left a legacy of service that makes all Montanans and Americans proud,” Daines said. “It's time to rightfully honor them, recognize their hard work, and give them the veteran status they earned.”

“We owe a debt of gratitude to the members of the Cadet Nurse Corps who provided critical health care during World War II,” said Chairman Tester. “These women stepped up to the plate during our nation’s time of need, and deserve national recognition for their service. I’m proud to join my Senate colleagues in introducing our bill that’ll recognize their contributions to this country during the war by providing them with this long-overdue honor.”  

Daines was the lead Republican sponsor of the bipartisan bill last Congress, and Tester was a lead Democratic sponsor last Congress.

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 bipartisan bill would have a direct impact for Montanan, and Billings’ native, Laura Koch-Natvig who served in the Cadet Corps from 1943-1946. Laura had been trying to receive the benefit she has earned to be buried in the National Cemetery in Laurel. Unfortunately, because WWII Cadet Nurses don’t receive this benefit reserved for those with veteran status, Laura’s request was denied. The bill would change that and ensure Laura receive this honor. 

Last Congress, Laura was notified of Daines’ effort to take action and said “I support the efforts of Senator Steve Daines to get veteran benefits for the women of the Nurse Cadet Corps during WW2.” 

Background:

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.