Introduction Down in history, we have experienced or heard of accounts of how brave individuals gave their lives for their communities and countries. This is evident in the contemporary world with the army. The navy is a crucial part of the army and seeks to protect the waters of its nation from aggression. In order for the navy to be efficient, it is imperative that their health is ensured on and off the battlefield. This mandate is the responsibility of the naval nurses. The institution was established in 1908 even though female nurses were an actuality in ships a century earlier (Godson, 2001). Even though, in the contemporary world naval nurses are a common fixture in the navy, there were several historical developments, which led to their incorporation. History of naval nursing The Early Stages of Naval Nursing The onset of the integration of female nurses into the military can be traced to 1811 where Dr. William P.C. Burton recommended them. This, however, was not implemented until after 5 decades where men were proposed to fill this mandate. Although these individuals were referred to be nurses, their mandates were similar to those of a hospital corpsman. It was noted later that there were females who served aboard a hospital ship, and they consisted of paid African American women and volunteer nuns. This occurred during the civil war in America. This proved to be a significant step to the recognition of female nurses in the navy, and in the Spanish American war, some female nurses were used but only ashore in hospitals, in 1898. Official Recognition of Female Naval Nurses An act of parliament in 1908 established the nurse corps. This led to the selection of twenty women to be enrolled at the Naval Medical School Hospital. Despite this, the navy was still reluctant to accommodate them. The nurses were not deterred and they used their means to ensure that they remained relevant. This led to the coinage of the term œthe sacred twenty since they were the first female nurses to serve in a formal capacity the navy. Role of Naval Nurses in WW1 With the occurrence of the First World War (WW1), the numbers of the female nurses increased significantly totalling 160 (Sarnecky, Borden Institute and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 2010). The first shipboard service for the group was witnessed in 1913 and their position in the navy was cemented in 1920. During the war, women became an integral part of the navy since they were actively incorporated into the service. In the period after the WW1, the number of the female nurses in navy reduced drastically. This, however, was not detrimental to the advancement of this field. The period saw studies being advanced to include fields such as nutrition, physiotherapy, and neuropsychiatry among others. Role of Naval Nurses in WW2 Onwards The imminent occurrence of the Second World War led to an increase in the numbers of the naval nurses. They were actively involved in t6he war and complemented the operations of the army personnel. The nurses followed the battle ships during assaults and were in some instance allowed to bring the wounded from the beaches. The nurses were exposed to the dangers of war including being captures and as casualties. These underlined the participation of female nurses in the navy (Jackson, 2006). In the modern times, the nurses are deployed worldwide and are proactive in combat missions and humanitarian work. The nurse corps is now a permanent addition in the military. Conclusion The incorporation of female nurses in the navy is a significant historical occurrence. This enabled women to be proactive in the battlefield in supporting the navy operations. This was, however, resultant of several historical events leading to this actuality. References Godson, S. H. (2001). Serving proudly: A history of women in the U.S. Navy. Annapolis, Md. [u.a.: Naval Institute Press [u.a.. Jackson, K. (2006). They called them angels: American military nurses of World War II. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Sarnecky, M. T., Borden Institute (U.S.), & Walter Reed Army Medical Center. (2010). A contemporary history of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. Washington, DC: Office of the Surgeon General, Borden Institute, Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
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