A Call to Serve

Built on a Tradition of Military Service

World War II nurse receiving medal for service
Katharine L. Baltzer Cert’40, is commended for her service by Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark. Baltzer received honors for her outstanding service as a member of the 56th Evacuation Hospital stationed in Anzio, Italy. (photo circa May 16, 1944)
Signe Skott Cooper during WWII
Signe Skott Cooper Cert’43, ’48, stands in front of her basha, the nurse’s living quarters at the military hospital in India. Cooper served in military hospitals in India during World War II as part of the Army Nurse Corps, an experience that shaped the rest of her life.

Since the UW–Madison School of Nursing was founded in 1924, Badger nurses have been making an impact in the military ranks. Whether it was during times of war or in times of peace, changing lives through serving one’s country has been a point of pride for many Badger nurses.

Opening its doors between the first and second World Wars, the School of Nursing was established at a time when answering the call to serve was at the forefront of conversation in nursing. The impact of military service on the School began right from the start thanks to the support from the School’s first director and Professor Emerita, Helen Denne Schulte. Before making her way to UW–Madison, Schulte served her native country in the ranks of the Canadian Army Nursing Corps during World War I.

two World War II nurses in Army uniforms
Two School of Nursing alumnae serve in the Army Nurse Corps during WWII (photo circa, 1943)

As the School began to build itself on the foundation of believing that a rigorous education was essential for effective nursing practice, Badger nurses who found their way into the military ranks found themselves fully prepared to make an immediate impact. Throughout the ensuing years of the School’s infancy, many students served in the United States’ war efforts during World War II in both the Army Nurse Corps and Cadet Corps.

Almost a century later, the early influences of military service on the School of Nursing continue to help guide Badger nurses as they serve their country through the various forms of military service. In recent years, some of our Badger nurses have completed their degrees while actively serving in the military (including finishing coursework while deployed). Others have gone on to serve as government officials in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More have gone on to serve in a variety of positions and ranks throughout our Armed Forces and in VA hospitals and clinics. No matter how you have served or are serving, we thank you for your service and dedication to our country.

Tell Us Your Story!

As the School prepares for its centennial celebration in 2024, we want to highlight the many ways Badger nurses have served in the military ranks or been involved with veterans’ affairs. Whether you were drafted or enlisted; served in times of war or times of peace; are active duty, Reserve, or National Guard; discharged or retired; or found your way to the School of Nursing after serving in the military, we want to tell your story!

Alumni who are interested in being featured can fill out a questionnaire and submit photos or may contact alumni@son.wisc.edu for inquiries or further assistance.

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