Sister Natalie KraussPosted: June 23, 2015
Seventy-one (71) years ago, on June 22, 1944, the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944—known by most as the “G.I. Bill”—was enacted into law. The law provided unprecedented benefits for World War II veterans that included a college education or vocational training and home or business loans that impacted American society as never before. Administration of the law’s benefits fell to the Veterans Administration and remains one of the top success stories in VA’s history. Behind the agency’s success are millions of individual personal success stories–veterans who applied for and used their benefits. Sister Natalie Krauss was one of them.
In February 1943, Helen Krauss, secretary for a Milwaukee diesel company, heard through a friend that the Marines had opened its ranks to women to help during World War II. Having always been a devout young woman, she consulted with a priest about joining the military, and he encouraged her. By that summer she was enlisted in the Marines and learning to march at Camp Lejeune, N.C. After four weeks of basic training, she was sent to Washington, D.C. as a clerk in the personnel office. In 1944 she transferred to Hawaii as secretary for two colonels in Plans and Operations based in Oahu. She was honorably discharged at the rank of Sergeant in December 1945.
After the war she worked briefly as a secretary and photographer’s assistant, then one day she visited the convent of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi with a friend (a former WAC) and found her calling. She entered the convent in 1948 and took her vows in 1950; her name was changed to Natalie. It was there that she decided to become a pharmacist and her dream was made possible by the G.I. Bill.
In March 1951, the New York Times published an article about Sister Natalie and six other sisters who were training to become pharmacists. She initially attended Fordham University but transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Madison after a year. She later graduated, passed her State Boards, and became the convent’s first pharmacist.
After 20 years as a pharmacist, she moved to Arizona where she worked with Project Hope for the National Navajo Health Foundation. She retired in 1994, roughly 40 years after becoming a pharmacist. When Sister Natalie died in 2006, she was given a military funeral and the commemorative flag was given to the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi where she spent 57 years of her life.
Story: VA Historian, Department of Veteran’s Affairs