From the earliest days, wherever the Army was needed, nurses served. During the Revolutionary War and other times of military involvement, nurses have been there. Many women served as nurses in the hospitals of the Union and Confederate Armies during the Civil War.
The U.S. Army Nurse Corps was officially established by an act of Congress on February 2, 1901. At the time, 202 nurses were on active duty. By 1917, when the United States entered World War I, 403 nurses served on active duty.
Although there were fewer than 7,000 nurses on active duty when World War II began, by 1945 the Corps had reached a strength of over 57,000. Stationed throughout the world, Army nurses have consistently demonstrated their valor and commitment. No fewer than 1,400 were decorated for their service.
In 1947, another act of Congress established the Army Nurse Corps as part of the Medical Department of the Regular Army. In 1950, when hostilities broke out in Korea, 3,460 Army nurses were on active duty. Many of them were assigned to field, evacuation, and the new Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (MASH), only minutes from the battlefield areas by helicopter.
Army nurses again played a vital role in caring for our wounded soldiers in Vietnam. Indeed, from the battlefields of the Civil War to places with names like Normandy, Bastogne, Seoul, Long Binh, Saigon, and Grenada, Army nurses have endeavored to relieve the pain and suffering of war.
Their mission is no less vital in peacetime. Army nurses perform in a range of medical situations and emergencies. The extensive training, the sense of a proud tradition, and the strong commitment to help mankind have made the Army nurse not only a valuable asset to the Army but also to our country. The nurses of the Army Nurse Corps form a unique group of experienced professionals: confident, compassionate, and caring.