U.S. Surgeon General's Office
Clara Adams-Ender served as head of the Army Nurses Corp from Sept. 1, 1987 to Aug. 31, 1991.
Clara Adams-Ender served as head of the Army Nurses Corp from Sept. 1, 1987 to Aug. 31, 1991. U.S. Surgeon General's Office
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Clara Adams-Ender stood behind Jim Webb's Senate campaign in 2006.
Clara Adams-Ender stood behind Jim Webb's Senate campaign in 2006. Alex Wong/Getty Images
According to the 2003 U.S. Census, about 215,000 women serve in America's active duty military. That's 15 percent of our total, active duty force. The military has made considerable progress since Brig. Gen. Clara Adams-Ender joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in 1961.
Adams-Ender was born in 1939 to North Carolina sharecroppers. She was the fourth of 10 children, but she had no trouble setting herself apart. She thrived in the classroom and earned an undergraduate degree in nursing by 1961. From there the Army beckoned.
Soon after joining the Nurse Corps, Adams-Ender's true passion brought her back to the classroom, this time as a teacher. She would train a generation of Army nurses and later run the department of nursing at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Before her retirement in 1993, Adams-Ender rose to the rank of brigadier general and chief of the same Nurse Corps that had given her a start.
Adams-Ender discusses her distinguished career with Cheryl Corley.