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“American Red Cross blood center,” Atlanta, Georgia, 1949. Courtesy of the Georgia State University Library Special Collections and Archives via Digital Library of Georgia.

The increase in American casualties during World War II intensified the critical need for nurses to support the Armed Forces. Nationwide, more than 59,000 nurses served in the Army Nurse Corps, while the Navy Nurse Corps included 1,799 active nurses and 9,222 reserves, most of whom were on active duty at the end of the war. Military nurses served in general hospitals in the United States and overseas; they also worked in field and mobile hospitals on the front lines.

In Georgia, politicians implored registered nurses and nursing retirees to sign up for work in local hospitals. Volunteer workers were also recruited as nurses’ aides; they were taught how to feed patients and change bedlinens to relieve more skilled nurses of these duties. Many of these volunteers became members of the Nurses’ Aide Corps, a program sponsored by the American Red Cross to support overworked nursing staff in civilian and military hospitals.

Wounded soldiers who needed more extensive treatment than they could receive on the battlefield were sent to Georgia-based Army hospitals located in Augusta, Rome, Thomasville, and Atlanta, and a Navy hospital in Dublin. More than 80,000 soldiers were treated in these Georgia facilities.