Retired Nurse Recognized for Cadet Nurse Corps Training – Shaw Local
Posted onAuthorWilliam A. ReillyComments Off on Retired Nurse Recognized for Cadet Nurse Corps Training – Shaw Local
CLINTON, Iowa — The “greatest generation” is attributed to Americans who grew up during the Great Depression and fought or supported the United States in World War II.
Every American had to step in to meet the challenges of the times and meet military and civilian needs as the war raged from 1939 to 1945.
One of those Americans is Mary Voss, 95, formerly of Morrison, Albany and Fulton, who now lives at Bickford of Clinton, an assisted care facility in Clinton, Iowa.
On April 1, she was joined by her sons Tom and Bob VanZuiden, some nurses from Bickford and a friend Don Hall, who was behind an effort to recognize her for serv
ice as a nurse cadet in the 1940s.
The United States Cadet Nurse Corps existed from July 1, 1943 to December 31, 1948 and was administered by the Public Health Administration. Its main purpose was to help alleviate the shortage of nurses caused by doctors and hospital nurses going overseas, or by women staying home with children while their husbands fought.
During this time, more than 120,000 women have gone through the rigorous training. They were then assigned to a civilian or military hospital or other public health agency for 6 months.
Voss first heard about the CNC in high school, reading the newspapers and seeing ads to join. With the promise of a free education and because she already had experience as a nurse’s aide at Morrison’s 15-bed hospital, she enrolled after graduating in 1945.
“It didn’t cost anything, but you paid the price,” she said of her CNC experience.
Voss went to West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park for 3 years of training, followed by 6 months of psychiatric training in Springfield, all “under government control”, she said.
She recalled the experience as a period of constant training, school, study and sleep. “It was hard work and there were no days off,” she said.
By the time she started her last class, the war was over, but she and two other cadets were still sent to Fort Defiance, Arizona, where they spent their 6 months of active duty on an Indian reservation.
Nurses spent their days helping out on the reservation, where residents spoke no English, visiting trading posts and hiking in the mountains of Arizona on their days off.
After completing their service, Voss and his friends set off on an adventure to the West Coast, visiting the Catalina Islands, Alcatraz, and other tourist destinations. She still has her suitcase covered in her travel destination stickers.
They eventually brought the “troop train” back to Chicago. Voss returned home to Morrison where a job awaited her at Morrison Hospital. She was a charge nurse and participated in surgeries, deliveries and even home visits with the doctors.
“They desperately needed help,” she said.
She soon married Maynard VanZuiden; they moved to a farm in rural Albany and had sons Bob and Tom, which left Mary milking cows with a toddler and baby in tow.
Maynard, the “love of her life”, died of polio on August 21, 1954, leaving her with two young boys and a farm to tend. The family moved back to Fulton and she later married Joe Voss.
She also returned to nursing, working as a registered nurse at the former Jane Lamb and now Mercy Hospital in Clinton, as well as a private nurse, school nurse, and eventually director of nursing at Harbor Crest Home in Fulton.
She also joined the first EMT department in Fulton, responding to the first 911 call made in Whiteside County. She spent 15 years with Fulton Ambulance and won the state’s first EMT award, which is displayed in her bedroom.
Voss retired in 1994. Nurses at Bickford joked that if they could clone her for nursing aide, they would. She smiled as she noted that the advent of computers in the medical industry is what really inspired her to go when she did. She preferred her paper and pen methods.
Walking on stage in West Oak to “get pinned down” in 1948 was a milestone, Voss said, and she still has her first all-white nurses uniform and Mercy Hospital cap, emblazoned with her insignia.
Vopss credits his grandson, Dennis VanZuiden, for sparking renewed interest in his CNC days. He brought her two books, “Your Country Needs You: Cadet Nurses of World War II”, by Thelma Robinson and “The United States Cadet Nurse Corps [1943-1948] and other federal nursing education programs” by the United States Public Health Service.
After reading them, she shared her experiences as a nurse with her neighbors, who were behind the effort to recognize her all these years later.
Don and Lilly Hall moved to Grandview Condos in Fulton in 2017, where Voss was their neighbor for a few years.
Lilly was an X-ray tech at Mercy Hospital and knew Voss from ambulance admissions. The couple brought Voss her mail and helped her with her chores, and eventually she told them the story of her junior nurse.
Don hadn’t heard of the program, but once he learned more, he wanted to recognize Voss, so he contacted state Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna.
In recognition of her efforts, Voss received a certificate Friday honoring her service as a nurse cadet, sent by McCombie and signed by House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch and House Clerk John Hollman.
He thanks Voss for his “service in time of need” and will be added to the display of his nursing collection.
“She’s an incredible woman with a story that only she can tell,” Don Hall said. “It was a lot of sacrifice from their generation.
“She helped the country during a critical time and served the United States as a nurse.”
UPDATE: A memorial service for the two police officers killed at Bridgewater College on February 1 – JJ Jefferson and John Painter – will be held at 11 a.m., Wednesday, February 9 at the Atlantic Union Bank Center on the campus of James Madison University, 645 University Boulevard, Harrisonburg, Virginia. The service will be open […]
WARREN, NH — The U.S. Forest Service has released a revised environmental assessment of its logging plan for 880 acres of land around Tarleton Lake, a high-altitude lake in the White Mountain National Forest, after strong local criticism. A third comment period began and the controversy escalated. “It was disappointing,” Peter Faletra said of the […]
The Carson Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest urges visitors to be aware of their surroundings, stay out of closed campgrounds, and follow warning signs when recreating in the scorched area. 2021 Tamarack Fire near Markleeville in Alpine County, California. The fire, which started on July 4, 2021, has burned 68,637 acres. He was […]