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The WWII Cadet Nurses Who Saved Lives at Home

By Natalie Missakian

U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Recruitment Poster

In 1943 the recruitment posters have been everywhere: “Become a nurse – your place wants you!” “Enlist in a happy job!” 

At 17, Elizabeth Yeznach was one of 180,000 youthful females throughout the region who answered the get in touch with. 

Now 96, the Ledyard resident is a person of the couple of surviving members of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps, a federal government plan produced to deal with a intense scarcity of nurses for the duration of Globe War II. She has also been a leader in a movement to achieve veteran position for the nurses, who have been credited with conserving the U.S. wellbeing system from collapse throughout the war.

Yeznach was a senior at Norwich Free Academy when she and a pal traveled to Hartford to implement to nursing university at St. Francis Medical center.  When Congress authorized the cadet system a several months afterwards, the young females just about every obtained letters from the medical center inquiring if they required to enlist. 

Elizabeth Yeznach cadet photo.png
Elizabeth Yeznach

“And of system, we did. We went in the working day after Labor Day,” she remembers. “We worked six-and-a-50 % days a week for 12 hour times, and if you experienced the afternoon off, you could leave campus, but you experienced to be in by 10 o’clock.”

President Roosevelt signed the regulation developing the nurse corps on June 15, 1943 and by 1945, the cadets ended up supplying 80% of the treatment in U.S. hospitals. 

Far more than 124,000 nurses graduated from the plan, which furnished free schooling, home and board, uniforms and a small stipend – $15 a thirty day period to start off, Yeznach remembers.

They had been issued military services-design and style uniforms which they have been needed to use anytime they ventured off campus.

“We were being a massive faculty and we used to have troopers arrive down and we’d have to go out and apply how to march,” Yeznach remembers. “In other hospitals in greater towns they would have cadet nurses march in parades, so we experienced to be ready.”

Become a nurse U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Recruitment Poster

As a girl growing up in Taftville, Yeznach dreamed of currently being a teacher. Numerous of the other ladies in her high university aspired to serve the state as nurses, listing it as their “highest ambition” in the blurbs below their yearbook pictures, she recalls. 

“My best ambition was to go to Paris,” Yeznach states. “And I’ve been 5 times.”

Even so, she states she is proud to have served and, like numerous cadets, went on to have a prosperous occupation in nursing. Immediately after graduation, she took a career at Norwich Clinic and then switched to private obligation nursing when elevating four little ones.

Whilst in her 50s, she made a decision to chase her desire of starting to be a trainer, and returned to university for her bachelor’s degree in instruction, which led to a 2nd vocation as a nursing instructor.

Then, in the 1990s, she achieved Shirley Harrow, a nurse from Quincy, Mass., and became an activist. 

Harrow was interviewing Yeznach and other nurses for the Harvard Nurses’ Well being Analyze and the two women of all ages acquired to conversing about how the federal federal government experienced by no means formally identified the nurses as veterans.

“I was not a cadet nurse, but it just did not appear ideal that they weren’t regarded,” explained Harrow, now 88. “These women of all ages saved the overall health care procedure of the United States through a War and then continued to be nurses for 20 to 30 yrs later on.”

The ladies made a decision they wanted to improve that, and soon joined forces to mail out hundreds of letters to nurse cadets all around the country, trying to spark a movement. 

In 2009, they aided mobilize a group of previous cadet nurses to travel to Washington, D.C., to foyer for a US Cadet Nurse Recognition Act, a monthly bill that would grant them veteran position. The recognition act would have supplied the cadets honorary veteran status and honorable discharges, creating them suitable for medals and burial benefits but not pensions, health treatment or other veterans’ gains.

Yeznach fell and broke her wrist for the duration of the excursion and could not testify in particular person, but she gave her speech to a further former cadet to examine. She described operating very long and nerve-racking several hours, caring for as quite a few as 50 sufferers at once, together with those who had been wounded in the 1944 Hartford Barnum and Bailey Circus fire tragedy.

“If we are not veterans, can you notify us what we are?” she requested the lawmakers.

The invoice was unsuccessful, as had been numerous that arrived just before and just after, such as a measure launched by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. very last 12 months.

With the youngest cadet nurses now in their early ‘90s, supporters like Harrow fret that the very last living cadets will die in advance of finding the veteran standing they ought to have. 

“I really don’t lose any slumber in excess of that, but I don’t drop hope either,” claims Yeznach.

She proceeds to explain to the cadet nurses’ story anytime she has an prospect, and hopes their attempts will at the very least assistance cement their legacy with long run generations.

“Maybe in 2350 somebody will be reading through about us in their background books,” she says.

U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Pledge