After the War
On September 19, 1943, The Des Moines Register published a photograph under the headline, "Minnie Spotted Wolf Joins the Marines." The caption states, "Taking her rifle and her future in hand, Minnie Spotted Wolf, 20-year-old Indian from Heart Butte, Mont, has joined the Marine Corps Women's Reserve."
This poignant caption perfectly captures the spirit of Native women's service in World War II. Not only were they working to secure the victory of their country on the world stage, but they were also taking their own futures into their hands. These women demonstrated incredible strength and agency in challenging gender roles and stepping out of their comfort zones. Several of them took that bravery into their later lives, forging the way for all women in politics, the workplace, and tribal sovereignty.
The WAC and it's Navy, Air, Coast Guard, and Marine counterparts were considered to be such a success that the Army petitioned the United States Congress in 1946 to include women's units in the military. The goal was to create women's units in all military branches as a full fixture: meaning that American women could join the military in both peacetime and war, just like men could.
The bill was passed into law in 1948 under President Harry S. Truman with Public Law 625, also known as the Women's Armed Services Integration Act. The WAC and its counterparts had their own separate, permanent place in the military until women were fully integrated in 1978.