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For Your Country’s Sake Today—For Your Own Sake Tomorrow, poster, 1942–45

During World War II, Congress approved legislation that created opportunities for women to serve in four special units in the armed forces: the Women's Army Corps (WAC), the Navy Women's Reserve (WAVES), the Marine Corps Women's Reserve (WR), and the Coast Guard Women Reserves (SPARS). These units were created for the duration of the war only.

Records of the Office of Government Reports, National Archives and Records Administration

For Your Country’s Sake Today—For Your Own Sake Tomorrow

The Women’s Armed Services Integration Act

Congress gave members of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), a branch of the U.S. Army, full service status during World War II. However, the legislation that did so was set to expire in 1948. As early as 1946, Army leaders requested that enlisted women be made a permanent part of the Army. Following two years of legislative debate, Congress passed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act in 1948. The act granted women the right to serve as permanent, regular members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and the recently formed Air Force.

[The] issue is simple—either the armed services have a permanent need of women officers and enlisted women or they do not. If they do, then women must be given permanent status.

Representative Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, Speech to the U.S. House of Representatives, April 6, 1948