Puerto Rican Servicewomen Answer the Call to Serve
Puerto Rican women’s service to our country dates back to World War I. Explore the rich history of Puerto Rico’s military women. The long history of service of Puerto Rican servicewomen is reflected in the Women’s Memorial Foundation Register and archives, from which many of the following vignettes are taken. If you are a Puerto Rican servicewoman or woman veteran or know one who is serving or who has served in the US Armed Forces, please contact the Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org, so that we can continue to enrich this history of Puerto Rican women’s service and sacrifice in defense of our nation.
Although Puerto Rican women undoubtedly began working as civilian employees of the US Armed Forces as early as 1898–the beginning of the Spanish-American War–the stories of their contributions as hospital aides, nurses, office workers and day laborers have been lost to history. The first documented evidence of Puerto Rican women’s service to our country dates back to World War I, a time when Puerto Rico was still a territory of the United States and women could not vote. When the war began in 1917, the US Army Medical Corps believed that it would not need the services of women doctors. By 1918, however, the Army realized that they could not find enough male physicians specializing in anesthesia to work in military operating rooms. Because the specialty did not pay well, most physician anesthetists were women. The Army realized that if it wanted to fill these positions, it would have to accept the services of women, and reluctantly began hiring women physicians as civilian contract employees. Dr. Dolores Pinero was one of those whom the Army placed under contract.