Commissioner Inducted into Nursing Hall of Fame
Grethe Cammermeyer, RN, PhD, was honored by the Washington State Nurses Association for significant contributions to nursing and health.
Cammermeyer was honored along with five other nurses by the Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) at a ceremony at Salty’s on Alki in Seattle March 20.
For nearly 20 years, the WSNA Hall of Fame has honored Washington state registered nurses who have made significant lifetime accomplishments in the nursing profession. Induction requires demonstrated excellence in areas such as patient care, leadership, education, public service, nurse advocacy, heroism, patient advocacy and clinical practice.
Cammermeyer has been a nurse for more than 50 years, which includes Army duty in Vietnam where she won the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service. In 1985, the Department of Veterans Affairs honored her as Nurse of the Year. She also won the Administrator's Award for Excellence in Nursing in recognition of her work in neuro-oncology at the VA Medical Center in San Francisco. In 1988, Col. Cammermeyer accepted the position of Chief Nurse of the Washington State National Guard.
In spite of her distinguished military career and nursing accomplishments, Cammermeyer was discharged in 1992 as the result of a 1989 security clearance interview during which she disclosed that she is a lesbian. At the time, gays and lesbians were not allowed to openly serve in the military.
Cammermeyer fought the discharge and was ultimately reinstated in 1994 after a Federal Court found the ban on homosexuals serving in the armed forces to be unconstitutional. She retired from the military with full privileges in 1997 after more than 30 years of service.
Cammermeyer's case sparked a decades-long struggle that has only recently culminated in full equality for gays and lesbians in the military.
At the induction ceremony, WSNA Vice-President Jennifer Graves noted that Cammermeyer showed “the heart and perseverance that are hallmarks of the nursing profession.”
Grethe Cammermeyer, RN, PhD, is a nationally recognized specialist in neuroscience nursing.
The WSNA honored not only Cammermeyer's civil rights advocacy but also her contributions to nursing. Nationally recognized for her expertise in neuroscience nursing, Cammermeyer has been a prolific researcher and has contributed to or authored dozens of publications.
Cammermeyer has been active in national, state and local politics during her civilian career. She was elected District 1 Commissioner for the Whidbey Island Public Hospital District in 2008 and represents South Whidbey.
"Those of us who are honored to work with Dr. Cammermeyer know her to be an exceptional nurse, consummate professional, advocate for veterans and women and a dedicated public servant who has made a significant difference in the many lives she has touched," says Linda Gipson, RN, PhD, Whidbey General Hospital Chief Nursing Officer.
Accepting her award, Cammermeyer reflected on the support she received from the WSNA more than 20 years earlier when she was fighting to be reinstated in the military. “I was humbled then and am humbled now by your recognition," she said.
In addition to Cammermeyer, this year’s WSNA Hall of Fame inductees included:
- Joan M. Caley, RN, MS, CNS, CNL, NEA, BC
- Thelma Cleveland, PhD, RN
- Maxine Davis Haynes, MN, RN
- Janet Primomo, PhD, RN
- Rheba De Tornyay, EdD, RN, FAAN