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State Senator

James Maroney

Representing Milford, Orange, West Haven and Woodbridge

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Sen. Maroney, Lawmakers, and the Veteran’s Affair Commissioner Honor Cadet Nurse Corps Heroes

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SIMSBURY, CT – Today at the McLean, A Life Plan Community located in Simsbury, state Senator James Maroney (D-Milford) and state Representative John Hampton (D-Simsbury) joined Veterans; Affairs Commissioner Thomas Saadi to recognize the contribution of women serving in the Cadet Nurse Corps during World War II.

Alice Johnson and Irene Wilks Walker (posthumously) were honored as Johnson, and Wilks Walker’s family, was presented with proclamations acknowledging their service to the nation. General Assembly lawmakers are continuing to request Congress also recognize those who served in the Corps.

The U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps was established during World War II to help fill a void created by nurses serving overseas in Europe and the Pacific.

“We are forever grateful for the sacrifices of these brave women,” said Sen. Maroney. “As co-chair of the Veteran's Affairs Committee, I am proud we passed legislation to properly honor cadet nurses. They are American heroes and an inspiration to all.”

From 1943 to 1948 about 180,000 women joined the Corps with 124,000 completing the program. Records show there were 1,125 nursing schools participating in the Corps program. Graduates provided nursing services at military and civilian hospitals in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The average age of a Cadet was 19.

“The young women who stepped up to serve their country have been overlooked for more than 70 years,” said Rep. Hampton. “These women volunteered to help our nation during one of the darkest times in U.S. history and we must finally recognize their contributions. I will continue doing my part to press Congress to provide full veterans benefits to these courageous women.”

“The members of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps answered the Nation’s call to address the shortage of nurses in a time of war,” said Commissioner Saadi. “The Cadet Nurse Corps gave our Nation the critical capacity to continually provide quality medical care domestically so that others could provide medical care to service members abroad contributing to our victory in World War II, which preserved freedom and democracy in the United States and for hundreds of millions of people across the globe. That is why ceremonies recognizing these patriotic women, most of whom are in their mid-90s, are so important.”

This year, the Connecticut General Assembly passed Senate Joint Resolution 3 which calls on Congress to recognize women who served in the Cadet Nurse Corps as veterans. Advocates say members of the Corps answered the call of service to their nation with distinction.

“My mother was in the Cadet Nurse Corps while a student at Wagner College in Staten Island, New York,” said Donna Johnston, daughter of Alice Johnson. “She was very proud of her service and wanted to use her nursing skills to provide care to those who were in need. She used her education to provide nursing care for over 50 years. She worked in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and in Connecticut. She loved nursing so much that after she retired, she continued to volunteer providing blood pressure screenings and administering flu vaccines for 10 years. I know she is grateful for the education she received, the ability to care for people for so long and for this recognition.”

Ben Walker, who accepted the proclamation on behalf of his late wife Irene Wilks Walker, recounted how Irene had been training with the Cadet Nurse Corps at New Britain General Hospital until 1948 when the program ended. Mr. Walker said Irene continued her studies at St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing as a civilian and spent 30 years at St. Francis helping to heal the sick. He added that The Walkers’ two daughters are also nurses.

Visit cadetnurse.com for more about the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps.

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