women served in the armed forces of the United States. Nearly
10,000 women in uniform actually served in-country during
the conflict. They completed their tours of duty and made
The Vietnam Womens Memorial was established not only
to honor those women who served, but also for the families
who lost loved ones in the war, so they would know about the
women who provided comfort, care, and a human touch for those
who were suffering and dying. The Vietnam Womens Memorial
was dedicated in 1993 as part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
The Vietnam Womens Memorial Project was incorporated
in 1984 and is a non-profit organization located in Washington,
D.C. The mission of the Vietnam Womens Memorial Project
is to promote the healing of Vietnam women veterans through
the placement of the Vietnam Womens Memorial on the
grounds of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.;
to identify the military and civilian women who served during
the Vietnam war; to educate the public about their role; and
to facilitate research on the physiological, psychological,
and sociological issues correlated to their service. The Project
has the support of every major veterans group in the country
including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and more than
40 other diverse organizations.
In 2002 The Project
changed its name to the Vietnam Women's Memorial Foundation
to better reflect its mission at this time.
Diane Carlson Evans, RN
Army Nurse Corps, 1966-72
11,000 American military women were stationed in Vietnam during
the war. Close to ninety percent were nurses in the Army, Navy,
and Air Force.
Others served as physicians, physical therapists, personnel
in the Medical Service Corps, air traffic controllers, communications
specialists, intelligence officers, clerks and in other capacities
in different branches of the armed services. Nearly all of them
By 1967, most all military nurses who volunteered to go to Vietnam
did so shortly after graduation. These women were the youngest
group of medical personnel ever to serve in war time.
Because of the guerilla tactics of Vietnam, many women were
in the midst of the conflict. There was no front, no such thing
as "safe behind our lines." Many were wounded; most
spent time in bunkers during attacks. The names of the eight
military women who died in Vietnam are
listed on the "Wall."
Medical personnel dealt with extraordinary injuries inflicted
by enemy weapons specifically designed to mutilate and maim.
During massive casualty situations, nurses often worked around
the clock, conducted triage, assisted with emergency tracheotomies
and amputations, debrided wounds and inserted chest tubes so
surgeons could get to the next critical patient. Over 58,000
soldiers died in Vietnam; 350,000 were wounded.
It is estimated that approximately 265,000 military women served
their country during the Vietnam war all over the world in a
variety of occupations. Thousands of women served in Japan,
Guam, the Philippines, Hawaii, and other stateside hospitals
caring for the wounded and dying who had been stabilized and
flown out of the war zone. Many Navy women were stationed aboard
the USS Repose and the USS Sanctuary, hospital ships stationed
off the coast of South Vietnam. Air Force nurses served both
"in country" and on air evacuation missions.
An unknown number of civilian women also served in Vietnam as
news correspondents and workers for the Red Cross, the USO,
the American Friends Service Committee, Catholic Relief Services
and other humanitarian organizations. Like their military counterparts,
many of these women were wounded in the crossfire. More than
50 civilian American women died in Vietnam.
Many Vietnam women veterans have never told their friends, colleagues
or even loved ones about their tour of duty in Vietnam. The
majority of them were only in their early 20s when they returned
to a country that did not understand what they had just experienced.
Although most were there to save lives, they received the same
hostile treatment as the returning combat soldiers.
When the Vietnam Women's Memorial Project was started in 1984,
Project leaders (all volunteers) were struck by the lack of
information about the women who served during the Vietnam era.
Veterans groups and the government had few records of them
there were no networks established and no easy way to find out
where these women were. Although the Foundation is making steady
progress in researching available documentation there is still
no official, accurate record of the number of women who served
during the Vietnam era.
According to a recent Veterans Administration report, 48% of
the women who served during the Vietnam conflict will suffer
from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during
their lives. Yet, few have sought documented help for it. Many
women also have suffered health problems associated with Agent
Orange exposure. Some have committed suicide.
The Foundation's Sister
Search program is dedicated to locating all American women
both military and civilian who served during the
Vietnam era. The purpose of the Search is to facilitate healing
among these veterans, allow them to network with each other,
share their stories with the public, and complete essential
research on this virtually undocumented veterans group. So far
about 12,000 Vietnam women veterans have been located by the
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