Ardelle J. “Teddi” Williams, 78, served in the Women’s Army Corps (WACs) from 1952 to 1955. She spent the remainder of her professional career in public service and securing improved healthcare benefits for female Veterans. At first, she had trouble getting treatment from VA hospitals, which had concentrated on male Veterans, but thanks to the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, better health services were guaranteed for the nation’s nearly 2 million female veterans.
Williams has received knee replacements, hip replacements, and various surgeries through the VA. Over the years, her perseverance has paid off on a number of fronts, including having women’s bathrooms installed at the VA. Now she says that the Lebanon VA Hospital is the best in the nation in providing services to female Veterans, “They take very good care of me.”
Williams joined the WACs after graduating from high school in 1952. Following basic training at Ft. Lee, Va., she received leadership training and attended surgical technician school at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. Williams recalls one soldier whose face was so badly burned that he required extensive skin grafts and plastic surgery to reconstruct his face completely. She said she did not know what he finally looked like until she saw his picture in a later issue of Life magazine.
Williams married a soldier, Robert Killmer, at Ft. Hood, Texas, and the Army sent them to Japan for publicity purposes “like a honeymoon,” by way of Ft. Lawton, Washington.
“While on the ship, I got notice that my mother was terminally ill, with about three months to live, so they shipped me right back. My husband was sent back to Korea for a second tour of duty. My mother died in 1955 right after I turned 21.”
Williams was stationed at Valley Forge Military Hospital and Ft. Ord, California. At Ft. Ord, she took part in two motion pictures involving the Women’s Army Corps: Never Wave at a WAC (1953), and Francis Joins the WACS (1954).
While in the service, Williams played basketball and softball. She also made the All-Army basketball team and played in a benefit game at Ft. Hood featuring the Harlem Globetrotters. She received the Korean War Service Ribbon.
After her discharge from the service in 1955, Williams moved to Long Beach, California and enrolled at Cerritos Junior College, where she received an associate degree in psychology. She worked at Metropolitan State Hospital and, after additional schooling, became a licensed psychiatric technician, working in the San Jose and Napa State hospitals.
Williams is a life member of the DAV and the American Legion. Her hobby is playing the organ and she enjoys entertaining the residents of the independent and assisted living complex where she now lives.