… civilian and military venues. At the onset of World War I, administrative barriers existed within the Army Nurse Corps and the American Red Cross that prevented African American nurses from joining the war efforts. With political and public pressure building for acceptance of African American nurses for the war cause, plans were made to permit them to apply to the Army Nurse Corps. It was not until the last months of World War I, during the influenza epidemic of 1918, that the Army and the Red Cross began accepting these nurses who were so willing to serve.

As the nursing shortage became critical, the War Department consented to the authorization of 18 African American nurses into the Nurse Corps. They were assigned to duty in December 1918 at Camp Sherman, Ohio (where Mrs. Fields was originally stationed) and Camp Grant, Illinois.

Greater than eighteen hundred African-American nurses were certified by the American Red Cross to serve with the Army Nurse Corps during World War I, yet only a handful were allowed to actually serve. None of those who serve received benefits or pensions as they did not serve in wartime.

Although African American nurses were fully qualified and prepared to serve within the military nursing community at the onset of World War II, racial segregation and discrimination lingered.

Thank you for your service Mrs. Fields and happy birthday many more years to come!


101-Year-Old Veteran Reveals Secret To Long Life: ‘Forgive Quickly’  was originally published on blackdoctor.org

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