Student Veterans and Army Nurse Poster

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Student Veterans and Army Nurse Poster

Catalog Entry

The poster located in the Fitchburg State University ROTC office is a poster of a painting of a nurse with different aspects of war painted behind her. The poster also says, “I serve…” and the bottom says, “Be an Army Nurse,” attempting to promote more women to become nurses for U.S. soldiers. The poster was made during World War II. This is only one variation of the many posters made in an effort to get more women to become Army nurses.

During World War II, there were more than 59,000 American nurses that served in the Army Nurse Corps. Nurses worked in field and evacuation hospitals, on hospital trains and ships, and on medical transport planes. During World War II, the overall mortality rate of American soldiers who received medical care in the field or who were evacuated was less than 4%. The ability and determination of the army nurses contributed greatly to this low mortality rate (Bellafaire).

World War II required many men to serve in the armed forces, creating many opportunities for American women. The Army recognized this need for women and in June 1944, it granted its nurses officers’ commissions and full retirement privileges, dependents’ allowances, and equal pay. The government also decided to provide a free education to nursing students between the years 1943 and 1948 (Bellafaire).

In more recent years, the Army Nurse Corps helped to evacuate and aid the wounded in the attacks on September 11, 2001. They were deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001, Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 until 2010, and when Operation New Dawn began. Army nurses have also cared for Wounded Warriors during their recoveries since June 2003. Army nurses were very influential in the formation of the Department of Defense Trauma Registry. This registry contains information on every trauma patient treated at an advanced facility.  This data led to improvements in medical equipment and procedures (Moore).

Many veterans return from their service with disabilities. Whether these disabilities were caused by an event that happened during their service, or if they had a preexisting disability that was aggravated during their service, depends on the situation. Common injuries of veterans are missing limbs, burns, spinal cord injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, hearing loss, traumatic brain injuries, and other impairments. Most, if not all, of these injuries are likely to have an effect on a veteran’s ability to find a job when they come home. In response to this, many federal laws have been created to provide protection for these veterans against employment discrimination.

These laws include Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Title I of ADA forbids private and state local government employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against individuals because of their disability and is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. USERRA has requirements for finding jobs for veterans with or without service-related disabilities and is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Justice ("Veterans and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): A Guide for Employers").

These laws and organizations are just a few examples of the many services that help to protect veterans. Another is the American Association of People with disabilities (AAPD). AAPD advocates for full civil rights for the over 60 million Americans with disabilities. They promote equal opportunity, economic power, independent living and political participation (Fuclan).

Disabled American Veterans is another organization that provides many services for veterans, including help with disability assistance. The Wounded Warrior Project is a service that provides rehabilitation, activities and career counseling for the U.S.’s wounded warriors and their families. Home for Our Troops builds and donates homes for severely-injured veterans, homes that are adapted and custom-made for the veteran’s injuries (Fuclan).

Kathleen Smith shared her story of being a World War II Army nurse. Kathleen shared her story for the last time in 2015 before passing away at the age of 95. Kathleen was a nurse in the 65th General Hospital. The idea of this hospital was created by Dr. Wilburt C. Davison, the Dean of the School of Medicine at Duke University. The concept was created in 1940 and became real in 1942. The original crew of the Army reserve unit consisted of male and female health professionals who were connected to Duke University. The 65th General Hospital was stationed in Suffolk, England from 1944 to 1945. The staff dealt with casualties from bomber crews, diseases, and emergencies. The hospital was also a specialty center for neurosurgery, thoracic and plastic surgeries, burns, and hand surgeries. This hospital unit treated more than 17,000 patients while in England ("Introduction").

Kathleen Smith was working on a women’s ward at Duke Hospital at the time Duke was organizing the 65th General Hospital. She joined the 65th as part of the U.S. Army Nurses Corps. The hospital was the only one of its size at the time and was the only hospital capable of handling the great mass of casualties. Smith shared that she and the nurses she worked with took care of men from the Air Force who would return, daily, after their bombing runs to Germany. She also shared that she became very close with the nurses in her barrack, as there were six to a barrack, and they shared their experiences and whatever supplies they received (Dudley).

Smith told stories of how approximately 1,000 B-17 planes flew in formation over the hospital every morning, how the English people were appreciative of the 65th being there, and how a 14-year-old English boy had brought the nurses strawberries one day (Dudley).

Kathleen Smith was just an example of one of the many nurses that is represented in the Army Nurse poster. Smith left her own home, during such a scary time, and put others before herself in such a desperate time. She was willing to help and take care of all of the brave soldiers during this time, instead of staying home and protecting herself. She was the kind of woman that the U.S. Army Nurse Corps were looking for, and she is the perfect example of the nurse on the poster.


Bellafaire, J. A., "The Army Nurse Corps." U.S. Army Center of Military History, 3 Oct. 2003,

Dudley, A. "A WWII Nurse's Story, Told for the Last Time." UNC Health Care, 9 Apr. 2015,

Fuclan, R. "Ways to Give Back to Veterans." Military, 2020,

"Introduction." Remembering the 65th: Duke's General Hospital Unit,

Moore, C. "Highlights in the History of the Army Nurse Corps, 2000 to Present." Army Nurse Corps Association, 2020,

"Veterans and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): A Guide for Employers." U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 1 Nov. 2016,


Catalog Entry Author(s)

Cali Laakso, Student, Fitchburg State University



“Student Veterans and Army Nurse Poster,” Cultural Heritage through Image, accessed September 27, 2022,

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