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Margarethe Cammermeyer Edit Profile

nurse , writer

Margarethe Cammermeyer served as a colonel in the Washington National Guard and became a gay rights activist.


Mrs. Cammermeyer was born on March 24, 1942 in Oslo, Norway. She arrived to the United States 1951 and became its citizen in 1960. She was a daughter of Jan and Margrethe (Grimsgaard) Cammermeyer.


Margarethe Cammermeyer received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing in 1963 from the University of Maryland. At the University of Washington she earned a Master of Arts degree in 1976 and a Doctor f Philosophy (nursing) in 1991.


From 1961 to 1962 Mrs. Cammermeyer was a Washington National Guard colonel and registered nurse, U.S. Army, Camp Murray, WA, later she served as a lieutenant captain, 1965-1968. Since 1967 she served in Vietnam and resigned in 1968, but in 1972 Mrs. Cammermeyer was re-enlisted in Army Reserve.

During 1970-1973 Margarethe Cammermeyer worked as a staff nurse at Veteran’s Hospital, Seattle, WA. She was a clinical nurse specialist in neurology and epilepsy in 1976-1981. Between 1981 and 1986 Mrs. Cammermeyer served as a clinical nurse specialist in neuro-oncology at Veteran’s Medical Center, San Francisco, CA.

During the period of 1985-1988 she was appointed assistant chief nurse and supervisor at Army Reserve Hospital, Oakland, CA. In 1986 she was promoted to colonel. From 1986 till 1996 Margarethe Cammermeyer served at Veteran’s Medical Center, Tacoma, WA, as a clinical nurse specialist in neuroscience and nurse researcher. Then she worked at Washington Army National Guard and National Guard Hospital, Tacoma, as a chief nurse from 1988 to 1996. Mrs. Cammermeyerbecame an inactive National Guard member since 1996. Later she was mainly known to work as a lecturer and author.

In 1989, responding to a question during a routine security clearance interview, she disclosed that she is a lesbian. The National Guard began military discharge proceedings against her. On June 11, 1992, she was honorably discharged.

Mrs. Cammermeyer filed a lawsuit against the decision in civil court. In June 1994, Judge Thomas Zilly of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington ruled that her discharge and the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military were unconstitutional. She returned to the National Guard and served as one of the few openly gay or lesbian people in the U.S. military while the "don't ask don't tell" policy was in effect, until her retirement in 1997.

A television movie about Cammermeyer's story, Serving in Silence, was made in 1995, with Glenn Close starring as Mrs. Cammermeyer. Its content was largely taken from Margarethe Cammermeyer's autobiography of the same name. After retirement, she ran for the United States Congress in Washington's 2nd congressional district in 1998.

In June 2010, she was appointed to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, a committee which is appointed by the United States Secretary of Defense and which reports to the United States Department of Defense. The Point Foundation announced plans to honor Margarethe Cammermeyer with its Point Legend Award in April 2011.


Member ANA (honorary human rights award 1994), Feminist Majority Foundation, American Association Neurosci. Nursing (chairman core task force), U. Washington Nursing Association (Distinguished Alumna 1995), Association Military Surgeons. United States, Sigma Theta Tau.

  • National Organization for Women (NOW) , United States

  • Feminist Majority Foundation , United States

  • American Association of Neuroscience Nursing , United States

  • American Nurses Association , United States

  • Washington State Nurses Association , United States

  • Association of Military Surgeons of the United States , United States

  • Sigma Theta Tau , United States


Married Harvey H. Hawken, August 1965 (divorced 1980). Children: Matthew Hawken, David Hawken, Andrew Hawken, Thomas Hawken. Married Diane Divelbess, March 2004.

Jan Cammermeyer - American - Neuroscientist

Margarethe (Grimsgaard) Cammermeyer - Norwegian - nurse

Harvey H. Hawken - American

Matthew Hawken - American

David Hawken - American

Andrew Hawken - American

Thomas Hawken - American

Diane Divelbess - American