Monday, July 13, 2020

Cadet Nurses of World War II Finally Being Recognized

Shirley Wilkinson receives award from Sen. Tarr for her service as a US Cadet Nurse during World War II

Several years ago, I posted a story about the Cadet Nurse Corps of World War II, and included my Aunt Shirley Wilkinson in the story.  She was a cadet nurse I found on the lists in and I contacted her to hear more about this interesting program that recruited young women to be nurses on the homefront while other nurses were serving overseas. 180,000 women were recruited for the program. The program ran from 1943 until 1948.

Nine months ago my Aunt Shirley was honored by a ceremony at the Manchester Historical Museum [Massachusetts] with a proclamation from the state of Massachusetts honoring her service.  At the time of the ceremony she was 91 years old.  Senator Bruce Tarr of Gloucester, Massachusetts presented her certificates.  Last week Senator Tarr and Massachusetts Charlie Baker proclaimed July 1st to be US Cadet Nurse Corps Day, and every July 1st in the future because of this bill.  

This week the state of Massachusetts was not the only place honoring these forgotten women. US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Susan Collins (R-Maine, Angus King (I-Maine), and Steve Daines (R-Montana) have renewed efforts in Washington, DC to honor the nurses and their service to the country with honorable discharges, ribbon and medal privileges, and military burial privileges (although not in Arlington National Cemetery). These nurses were uniformed members of the military during and after World War II, yet remained unrecognized and invisible.  The legislation up in front of the House and Senate in Washington DC. would not provide living cadet nurses with Veterans Affairs pensions, or healthcare benefits. This bill will provide American flags and plaques for the graves of these Cadet Nurses in honor of their service during World War II.

Most of these living women would now be in their late 80s or 90s today.  It is estimated that only 2 percent of the 16 million men and women who served during World War II are alive today.

Write to your US representatives and senators to support this legislation. The name and number of the bill is S997 The U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act. It will pass if a few more good senators sign on as cosponsors.  According to Barb Poremba of the Friends of the USCNC "If Senators know that they have Cadet Nurses in their state, they are more like to co-sponsor S997."

And don’t forget to check to see if there was a Cadet Nurse in your family tree!

For the truly curious:

Friends of the US Cadet Nurse Corps WWII 1943 - 1948 (this is the group working to get the bill passed in Washington DC) :

U.S. Cadet Nurse website   

The U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Project  

“ Bill Honoring WWII-Era Cadet Nurse Corps Members Signed into Law”, The Cricket, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, July 10, 2020  

“U.S. Reps Introduce Legislation to Honor Cadet Nurses”, ONS Voice, 20 May 2019, 

“Is There a Cadet Nurse from World War II in Your Family Tree?” Nutfield Genealogy, posted 22 June 2015  

“Nurses Save Lives: A Call to Revive the Cadet Nurse Corps”, Wicked Local Beverly,  

“WWII Cadet Nurses Could Become Honorary Veterans”,, 22 July 2019  

Click here to access the WWII Cadet Nursing Corps Card Files:  

Or at click here:  


Cite/Link to this post:  Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Cadet Nurses of World War II Finally Being Recognized", Nutfield Genealogy, posted July 13, 2020, ( accessed [access date]). 


  1. Great post Heather! Thanks for shining a light and a call for action on the legislation to recognize and honor the women of the Nurse Cadet Corps. My mother served in the Nurse Cadet Corps and I shared your post with her today. I have added your post to my Saturday Serendipity list this week where I also provide a link to my post on the Nurse Cadet Corps from back in July 2016. There is a photo of my mother in her uniform there.

    1. How interesting that your Mom was a Cadet Nurse, too, John! Thanks for putting my post on your Saturday Serendipity list!

    2. Hi John,
      We are the FRIENDS of the USCNC, a volunteer advocacy group for passing federal legislation for Honorary Veteran status for the WWII Cadet Nurses. Healther know about us. I would love to know about your Mom. Can you please start by registering her with us. If you would like us to send you her membership card, check the box at the end