The Women's Army Corp (Wac) Essay

2612 words - 11 pages

“The Women’s Army Corp (WAC)”

Throughout the history of the United States women have served the country during wartime in a capacity that went largely unrecognized or even acknowledged by the military. Women have helped care for soldiers as nurses or cooks, they worked as spies and in the most extreme cases they would disguise themselves as men so they could serve on the front lines of the battle. World War I brought a change to the military as the fighting was now taking place overseas and the need arose for a larger army, women were now able to begin serving a role that would be recognized in the various branches of the military; the Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. These ...view middle of the document...

The Army Nurse Corp was established by Congress in 1901 as a military organization but without Army rank, officer status or even equal pay (Treadwell, 1954, p. 6). Nurses in the Army were considered necessary and were accepted as nursing was considered to be ‘women’s work’, therefore nurses were granted military status (Holm, 1998, p 17). Even though the women were no longer a part of the military there would still be talk of reincorporating them for the purpose of building a stronger and more efficient military in case of future wars. These proposals and ideas would be shelved until World War II when the need for a larger army was evident and necessary if the United States was to succeed at winning the war.
In 1941, as the war was progressing overseas, Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers introduced a bill to Congress proposing to establish the WAAC, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp (Holm, 1982, p. 21). After war was declared the Army was faced with a shortage of manpower that the draft was unable to fill. The purpose of the WAAC was to utilize women’s talents and abilities in the war effort and to provide women to serve as army support staff, freeing men for combat duty (Hoyt, 1995, p. 61). In May 1942 the WAAC was established to start recruiting women to the Army but this was with its faults. The first women were not a part of the Army; they were serving as an auxiliary to the Army without the benefits that their male counterparts received. (Holm, 1982, p. 24). At first the women did not protest or resent this fact but when the Navy and Marines began to recruit women giving them the same military status as men the WAAC began to protest and membership numbers fell. In response to this in June 1943 a new bill was passed which eliminated the WAAC and established the WAC, the Women’s Army Corp, giving women full military status. With this change the WAC began to grow again.
The creation of the WAC was not without its controversy as well as opposition. There were many who felt that by allowing women into the army the United States would be seen as weak as well as cause a distraction for the enlisted men. The reasons for opposition ranged from protesting women in the army because then who would ‘manage the home fires’ doing the household tasks such as cooking, cleaning and washing (Weatherford, 1990, p. 30), to opposing women in the army because of the humiliation it would cause the United States. Congressman Somers from New York stated, “What has become of the manhood of America that we have to call on our women to do what has ever been the duty of men?” (Weatherford, 1990, p. 30). The final vote to approve the WAAC passed by a mere 11 votes and was signed by President Roosevelt on May 15, 1942.
Despite the controversy surrounding enlisting women in the Army, by the end of summer 1942 over 110,000 applications had been given out (Weatherford, 1990, p. 33). The requirement for enlisting was simple, a female citizen between the...

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