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Jewish Women in the Military - Army: The WAAC and the WACS

In May 1941, a bill was introduced in Congress to create the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. The bill languished for several months until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941) signaled the need for a dramatic mobilization effort. On May 14, 1942, The Women's Army Auxiliary Corps was officially established.

From the outset, the WAAC was beset with problems: Not officially part of the Army, WAAC's did the same jobs as soldiers but did not receive the same pay, rank, legal protections, injury benefits, or other military entitlements. While women were anxious to serve their country, these inequities severely inhibited the Army's ability to recruit. By the spring of 1943, many WAAC training facilities were sitting idle.

In July1943, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law the establishment of the Women's Army Corps with full military status. In the ensuing months, thousands of American women—Jew and Gentile alike—answered the call to serve. By the war's end, the glowing record of achievement and dedicated contributions toward victory on behalf of America's women motivated President Harry Truman to establish the WACS as a permanent part of the United States Army and Reserve.

Twelve Jewish American women were included among the first graduating class of WAAC officers at Fort Des Moines, Iowa on Augus 29, 1942. Other women active in these corps include: Matilda and Bernice Blaustein (WWII) and Vicki Lewis (1980s).

Josephine Jerum Anton and the WAACS
Full image
Josephine Jerum Anton and the WAACS marching at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Women in the Military - Army: The WAAC and the WACS." (Viewed on January 20, 2018) <>.


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