Women's Armed Services Integration Act
Women's Armed Services Integration Act, a United States law enacted on June 12, 1948, enabled women to serve as permanent, regular members of the armed forces in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and the recently formed Air Force. Prior to this act, women, with the exception of nurses, served in the military only in times of war. During World War II, over 150,000 women had served in the WAVES (the Navy) and the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps and were still serving when the act was enacted. The act limited service of women by excluding them from aircraft and vessels of the Air Force and Navy that might engage in combat.
The Navy swore in its first six women enlistees on July 7, 1948, and later that year commissioned as a lieutenant commander Frances Lois Willoughby, who had served in World War II in the Naval Reserve, its first female doctor. Hundreds began basic training in the Army before the end of the year. The Marine Corps launched its program by inducting some of its women reservists and those who served in the Marine Corps Women's Reserve in World War II. The New York Times referred to them as "'Marinettes'".
In October 1949 an Army regulation established that mothers with dependent children were ineligible to serve in the military, and female servicewomen with children under the age of 18 were to be discharged. This regulation remained in place until federal legislation in the 1970s established the inclusion of women with children in the armed forces.
In 1998, a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Women's Armed Services Act was held at the Women in Military Service for America (WIMSA) Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. Deputy Secretary of Defense John J. Hamre delivered the keynote address.
- Bellafaire, Judith A. (1972). The Women's Army Corps: A Commemoration of World War II Service. Washington, DC: United States Army Center of Military History. p. 2. CMH Publication 72-15.
- "First Enlisted Women Are Sworn In by Navy; Sullivan Hails Event as Service Milestone". New York Times. July 8, 1948. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
- "Frances Lois Willoughby, 78; First Female Doctor in Navy". New York Times. May 16, 1984. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
- Brown, Nona (December 26, 1948). "The Armed Forces Find Woman 'Has' a Place". New York Times. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
- "5 Women Inducted into the Marines". New York Times. December 30, 1948. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
- "DoD Commemoration of 50th Anniversary of Women's Armed Services Integration Act of 1948, June 3, 1998". Press Advisories. U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
- Evelyn Monahan and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee, A Few Good Women: America's Military Women from World War I to the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (Vintage, 2011), 231ff., re politics and opposition