YON 2020 Day 349: Betty Napoleon, PhD, RN

Updated: Jan 4

As we honor nurses and midwives during this Year of the Nurse, Betty Napoleon, PhD, RN, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Nursing at Baldwin Wallace University, reminds us of efforts to honor nurses who served years ago. Dr. Napoleon provides a bit of history about the Bolton Act and encourages all of us to seek support to the bipartisan legislation to honor those nurses.

I am proud to be a nurse because nurses have a history of being caring, compassionate individuals that selflessly attend to the needs of others in environments and settings across the healthcare continuum. Florence Nightingale exemplified this selfless dedication, and it is significant and appropriate that we honor her many contributions in the 2020 Year of the Nurse and Midwife celebration.

The nurses of the United States Cadet Corps of World War II also deserve recognition for their efforts in caring for the soldiers fighting for this country as well as wounded soldiers of our allies. Legislation sponsored by Congresswoman Frances Payne Bolton in 1943, afterwards called the Bolton Act, created the Corps. The Bolton Act allowed young women from the ages of 17 to 35 years of age with a high school education to apply to programs that provided scholarships, covered expenses and provided training essential for caring for the injured. The law was unique in that it included a non-discriminatory clause so that Native American, African American, Japanese American and White American women were all welcome to apply. When accepted into the Corps they served in segregated units, however nearly 124,000 women of the US Cadet Corps from 1943 to 1948 administered care during their tenure.

On April 3, 2019, the United States Cadet Nurse Corp Service Recognition Act (H.R. 2056/S.997) was introduced in Congress. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation was written to honor the nurses that served in the US Cadet Corps during World War II and, if passed, will provide them with honorable discharges, medal privileges and burial benefits through the Veterans Administration. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has commended the bipartisan efforts that resulted in this bill. Dr. Ann H. Cary, AACN Board Chair at the time of the bill’s introduction, stated that, “It is long overdue that we acknowledge these brave nurses who embody the ‘greatest generation.” I second Dr. Cary’s statement that, “AACN is pleased to see that women who served in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps from 1943 to 1948 are one step closer to finally receiving the recognition they so rightfully deserve.” In addition to AACN, the American Nurses Association and the Veterans of Foreign Wars have also endorsed this bill.

Let me encourage you to write your representatives in the U.S. House and Senate and ask them to support this important legislation in honor of those brave nurses that so honorably served our country in a time of need. I am proud that our profession has a proven history of commitment and responding when help is needed.

To learn more about the great story of these dedicated women please see:

Details about the legislation can be found at:

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