Cadet Nurse Corps Day recognized in CT, but WWII cadet nurse veteran says she hopes for federal recognition, too

New London

WATERFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Tuesday is recognized as Cadet Nurse Corps Day. We sat down with Emily Schacht at her Waterford home to talk about her time as a Cadet Nurse back in World War II.

“We didn’t have any spare time,” said 94-year-old Emily Schacht who spoke to News 8 at her Waterford home.

She has quite a few stories to tell from her days as a Cadet Nurse.

“We would be on a floor with 20 patients with no aids; we did everything,” said Schacht.

She was 17-years-old when she signed up to go through the free but intense training and education it took to become a Cadet Nurse. The Bolton Act of 1943 established the corps because of a major shortage of nurses in local hospitals during World War II.

“In return for that they pledged their service for the duration of the war,” said Eileen Degaetano who is Schacht’s daughter and a nurse herself.

She says her mom and the other nurses responded to a public health crisis then just like the nurses of today have done during the pandemic.

“They were needed in ways that were beyond what they ever had to do in service and they stepped up,” said Degaetano.

Heroes during different times but heroes just the same.

“When we had this COVID experience I knew what to do because my training had been so intense,” said Schacht.

The Cadet Nurse Corps was part of the Public Health Service, and in 1943 the president declared that the Public Health Service was a military service in times of war. However, these nurses say they have never gotten any official military benefits or recognition.

The state of Connecticut now recognizes June 15 as Cadet Nurse Corps Day.

“It’s something I never even thought would ever happen,” said Schacht.

State legislators also issued a resolution supporting federal bills which would provide cadet nurses with wartime services medals, status as an honorary veteran, and burial benefits including a flag and grave marker.

“It does not include burial in Arlington Cemetery or any of those designated places for veterans,” said Degaetano.

But most of all the federal recognition could ensure their legacy lives on. 

“Yeah because I realize now that you know we kept the hospitals open,” said Schacht.

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