Cathay Williams disguised herself as a man, changed her name to William Cathay and joined the Army in 1866. She joined the 38th United States Colored Infantry—a group of distinguished fighters later given the name “buffalo soldiers.” She was discharged after a period of two years, having contracted smallpox and been revealed to be a woman.
More than half of the women who served in the U.S. armed forces in World War I – roughly 21,000 – belonged to the Army Nurse Corps, and performed heroic service in camp and station hospitals at home and abroad.
The last of more than 5,000 nurses departed from the Republic of Vietnam two months after the cease-fire, March 29, 1973. Lt. Col. Marion L. Minter was the last chief nurse in Vietnam.
As with WAC in the 1970s, many changes also took place within the Army Nurse Corps. In March 1976, the authorized Army Reserve troop program’s strength was increased from approximately 1,900 to more than 5,100 officers. In April 1976, the Division of Nursing at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research transferred to the Department of Nursing, Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
By March 1980, more than 3,666 of the Army nurses on active duty – approximately 95 percent – had a baccalaureate degree or higher in nursing or a related career field. There were nurses on active duty in the United States, Hawaii, Alaska, Panama, Japan, Okinawa, the Republic of Korea, Germany, Italy, and Belgium.
On June 12, 1948, the Women's Armed Services Integration Act creates regular and reserve status for women in the Army.
Early Women Soldiers
Army Nurse Corps
A New Era
Facts and Figures
Lt. Gen. Jody J. Daniels
Lt. Col. Lisa Jaster
Capt. Deshauna Barber
Maj. Gen. Marcia M. Anderson
Command Sgt. Maj. Michele S. Jones
Women in the Army Reserve Infographic
2015 Tri-signed Letter: Full Integration of Women in the Army
SecDef opens all military occupations to women
Remarks on the Women-in-Service Review
Army Women's Foundation
Women in Military Service for America Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, Va.
VA Center for Women Veterans
Women Veterans Health Care
Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (VWISE)
Women’s Army Corps Veterans’ Association