By Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, U.S. Navy surgeon general, and chief, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
Since May 13, 1908, when President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Naval Appropriations Bill establishing the Nurse Corps as a unique component to the Navy, the men and women of the Nurse Corps have honorably served and evolved with the nation’s needs in times of war and peace.
The Nurse Corps has grown exponentially from when their original 20 female members known as the “Sacred Twenty,” reported for duty at the Naval Medical School Hospital in Washington, D.C., to their peak at more than 11,000 members during World War II. Likewise, they have expanded from their first duty stations at naval hospitals Annapolis, Md., Brooklyn, N.Y., and Mare Island, Calif., to locations all over the world, often deploying in harm’s way.
Today, we honor Navy Nurses who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation, those who were true pioneers for their junior nurses, prisoners of war, and those who made historical leaps to help define Navy nursing into its current strength today. We thank you for all you have done.
Today we honor the outstanding accomplishments, courage, and commitment of Navy Nurses who have set the bar high for military medicine around the world. Our Nurse Corps officers fly with wounded from battle-torn areas; provide care in the fleet and on hospital ships; establish native nursing schools, clinics, and small hospitals in remote areas of the world; and administer or command Navy medical treatment facilities worldwide. Our nurses are published and renowned scientists, researchers, teachers, providers and clinicians. Their continued work and dedication have earned them a prominent place in the United States Navy.
Our Nurse Corps officers selflessly provide compassionate care — at home, abroad, and on the front lines. They are an integral part of readiness, ensuring our Sailors and Marines are medically ready to complete their mission, anytime, anywhere.
To the more than 4,000 active duty and reserve Nurse Corps personnel, I thank you for your service, sacrifice and dedication. Happy 106th birthday Navy Nurse Corps!