The U.S. Marine Corps was strictly male in ranks until World War II, except for 305 female Marine Reservists, famously known as "Marinettes", who served during World War I. By 1942, the pressing manpower demands resulted in personnel shortages in all branches of the military.
However, Commandant General Thomas Holcomb opposed recruiting women. Still, with some help from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the Navy bill, Public Law 689, was signed into law on July 30, 1942, establishing the U.S. Navy's Women's Reserve. The same law authorized the creation of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve, but the U.S. Marine Corps did not immediately develop it as a program until November 1942 due to General Holcomb's attitude regarding having women in the Marine Corps.
Holcomb eventually came to follow the example of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Coast Guard by starting to have women filling all the necessary positions of Marine Corps service in February 1943. The Marine Corps Women's Reserve Schools opened in July 1943 under the command of Colonel John M. Arthur. Officer candidates and recruits in training at Mount Holyoke in Massachusetts and Hunter College in The Bronx, New York City. The Women Marines training programs were transferred late in 1943 to Camp Lejeune when crowding forced the Marine Corps to open its male training ground, the largest Marine Corps base on the East Coast of the country, to women.
At Camp Lejeune, it is estimated that approximately 19,000 women would become trained as U.S. Marines during World War II. Recruits traveled to Wilmington, North Carolina, on troop trains of about 500 women in each train. At the train depot, the future Women's Reserves were lined up, issued paper armbands identifying them as trainees, ordered to pick up any female candidates' luggage, and marched aboard another train. Upon arriving at Camp Lejeune, shouting non-commissioned officers herded the women into barracks that lacked numerous amenities. The barracks had large, open living quarters known as squad bays, group shower rooms, male urinals still present in the barracks, and toilet stalls without doors. Despite these initial shocks, the Women's Reserves came to distinguish themselves at Camp Lejeune, filling vital positions all over the military base.
Women in the Marines faced a great amount of initial disdain, resentment, and crude language aimed at them by male Marines and Seabees. It took an order by the Marine Corps Commandant General Holcomb in August 1943 and an eventual waning of hostility towards the Women's Reserves by late summer 1944 for things to change. The women's competency in their positions and their work, confidence, disciplined appearance, and personal pride won over a large percentage of the male Marines at Camp Lejeune.
Since 1953, the drinking water at Camp Lejeune has become contaminated with volatile organic compounds, including trichloroethylene, benzene, vinyl chloride, and perchloroethylene. Nonetheless, it was only in 1982 that the Marine Corps found these highly toxic chemicals lurking in the water at the military base. Everyone who was stationed at Camp Lejeune inevitably consumed water containing harmful substances, including women Marines. As a consequence, they are now at high risk of developing numerous cancers, as well as the following, which can affect either them or their children if they were pregnant during their stay at the military base:
If you are a woman Marine who spent time at Camp Lejeune and now struggle with a disease or health issue or gave birth to a child with a congenital defect, we strongly encourage you to contact Atraxia Law, as you might be entitled to financial compensation. We will carefully and thoroughly assess your case to determine your eligibility. The process of having your case evaluated is very simple and will mostly take place over the phone, as we understand how overwhelming suffering from a serious health problem can be.
With over 35 years of experience in reviewing toxic exposure claims, our team of professionals is ready to offer you the assistance you need if you are a woman Marine who spent time at Camp Lejeune and now struggle with a disease. The only documents we will request to assess your case are your military records and your medical records. If we determine that you are entitled to financial compensation, we will promptly direct you to a reputable attorney.