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Meridian Village Resident Recalls WWII Effort

Meridian Village Resident Recalls WWII Effort

Honor and Celebrate Cadet Nurses

When honoring those who served our nation, take a moment to celebrate Cadet Nurses, the first integrated United States service corps and the only uniformed corps of World War II to not be considered military veterans.

The United States Cadet Nurse Corps filled an urgent need during World War II when many nurses were called overseas to military service, leaving U.S. hospitals on the verge of collapse. The program was established in 1943 to alleviate the nursing shortage and ensure good health care for the civilian community at home.

The legislative act creating the corps included a provision that prohibited discrimination based on race, color, or creed. It was open to all women ages 17-35 who were in good health and had graduated an accredited high school.

Ruby Foster was one of those Cadet Nurses. Now a resident of Meridian Village, a Lutheran Senior Services Life Plan Community in Glen Carbon, Ill., she shared her story recently on HEC TV. You can see the video here: Ruby Foster, World War II Cadet Nurse (

Ruby Foster

She was just 16 when she joined the corps. “I saw that poster and said, ‘Hey! That’s for me,’” recalled Ruby. Not only did the program create access to education she otherwise would not have been able to afford, she also was proud to serve her country.

Participants received their nursing training in 30 months, including clinical experiences in medicine, surgery, pediatrics, and obstetrics. From 1943 until the program ended in 1948, 179,294 student nurses enrolled and 124,065 of them graduated. By 1945, Cadet Nurses provided 80% of the nursing care in U.S. hospitals.

One of Ruby’s best friends at Meridian Village is a team member, Vickie Rodgers, who is the Community Clinical Educator. Vickie believes that Ruby and other Cadet Nurses should receive veteran honors. “While we consider them home front heroes, the government does not consider Cadet Nurses to be veterans,” she said. “They signed up for the duration of the war yet they’re the only uniformed corps members not to be recognized.”

Thanks to Vickie’s efforts, Ruby has finally received some recognition for her war efforts. She participated in an “Honor Flight” and was given a standing ovation at a recent St. Louis Blues hockey game.

Vickie and Ruby’s friendship also inspired a book, “Ms. Ruby and the GiGi Squad,” which tells the story of Ruby’s “Bonus Grandma” relationship with Vickie’s grandchildren. Read more about their collaboration:

Meridian Village Staff Member Writes Book about Visiting Care Centers │Lutheran Senior Services (

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