WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Beginning a medical career is difficult enough. Imagine getting your start by joining the Army at a time when women faced more restrictions in the service.
From the time Linda Love was a little girl, she knew she wanted to be a nurse. Little did she know her career path would have such a unique beginning: a visit from an Army recruiter.
“Interviewers came to our school … and I was interested, so I wanted to join,” Love said. “As soon as I graduated, it was on.”
Love joined the Army on June 26, 1967. She says her maiden name made for an interesting time in basic training.
“‘Cuz my last name was Sargent when I had to sign off and salute the sergeant, I had to say Private Sargent … and that was remarkable,” Love said.
Love made her way from her hometown of Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, to Fort McLellan in Alabama.
“It was a training, kinda like a nurse in training to help men when on the field … if they happened to get hurt, we’re supposed to keep them living,” Love said.
Different rules applied to Army women during Love’s training days. At the time, women could be involuntarily discharged due to pregnancy. Many female officers also often dealt with promotion restrictions. Still, that didn’t deter Love and the other nurses-in-training she worked with.
“Yes, we was all in one unit,” Love said. “[We’d] go to classes, well, marching, filing out and getting in parades, and yeah, it was very fun.”
Due to health problems, Love was discharged less than a year later, but she says her time in the service was a major stepping stone in her career. Afterward, she went to college, became a CNA, and worked in hospitals and nursing homes—eventually becoming a head nurse.
“I was able to hire people—that was very exciting to me to know what to do at that particular time to save the person’s life,” Love said. “I always like helping people, and if I can do something to help someone, that was very exciting, and I was very happy to be able to help someone to feel better and enjoy life.”
If you would like to nominate a veteran for our Veteran Salute, email KSN reporter Hannah Adamson at firstname.lastname@example.org.