Military officer Col. Lawrence Washington was born on October 20, 1935 in Washington, D.C. to Charlotte and Isaac Washington. He attended Union Academy and graduated from Pine Forge Academy. Washington received his B.S. degree in nursing in 1968 from the University of Maryland. He went on to receive his M.S. degree in nursing in 1972 from The Catholic University, in Washington, D.C.
Washington served as an enlisted medical aidman with the rank of private at Walter Reed General Hospital, from 1954 to 1956. He was sworn in as 2nd lieutenant reserve officer, Army Nurse Corp at Fort Meade in 1962, and then worked in psychiatric mental health nursing from 1966 to 1967, In June 1967, he was sworn into the Regular Army becoming the first male nurse, black or white, commissioned in the Regular Army. Washington also served as a consultant clinical nurse specialist psych/mental health at Howard University Hospital Nursing Department in 1972, and assistant professor of the University of Maryland, Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing from 1972 to 1977. Washington was the first African American male nurse to receive his military science certification in 1978 from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and worked as health services command nursing methods analyst on the Manpower Survey Team at Fort Sam Houston. Washington served as chief of the Department of Nursing, U.S. Army Medical Activity, in Berlin, Germany from 1981 to 1983. He was the first African American male Army Nurse Corps officer to be promoted to the rank of colonel at William Beaumont Army Medical Center, in El Paso, Texas and was named assistant chief of the Department of Nursing at Beaumont from 1983 to 1987. He also served as relief supervisor and nursing services consultant, at R.E. Thomason General Hospital in El Paso. Washington retired from military service in 1987.
Washington has served as a clinical instructor and skills supervisor in psychiatric nursing for the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Nursing; an assistant professor and adjunct faculty member for clinical pediatric nursing at Columbia Union College; an assistant professor at Howard University College of Pharmacy, Nursing, and Allied Health Sciences. He served as a commonwealth assistant professor at George Mason University College of Nursing and Health Science where he became the program coordinator of the Saudi-U.S. University Project. He also provided clinical supervision in health assessment, community-based health promotion, disease prevention, and was a member of the University’s Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations committee. He served as an assistant professor at Louisiana State University; instructor at University Of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College.
Washington’s awards and recognitions include: the United States Legion of Merit, Three Meritorious Service Medals, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Order of Military Medical Merit, and an Expert Field Medical Badge, and letters of appreciation.
Col. Lawrence Washington was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 7, 2018.