Sunday, September 30, 2012



PICTURE by Manoj Khiani!
This is a very powerful, but not well-known monument
to the women who served in the Vietnam War.
It's a nurse holding a dying soldier with a third person crying out.
Nobody says a word when they are looking at this monument.

Researchers Need Help from Female Vietnam Nurse Veterans
The "Vietnam Nurse Veteran Psycho-physiology Study"
sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
is looking for female Vietnam nurse veterans to
Little is known about the long-term consequences of
combat theater assignment on female military
personnel. Through anecdotal accounts and survey/
interview studies, researchers leave come to appreciate
the psychological stressors that were experienced by
women who served in Vietnam. About 50% of women
who served "in country" have reported some
symptoms of distress after coming home.
Research efforts so far have provided some basic
information but much more is needed in order
to understand the complex issues surrounding
combat theater assignment of female military
personnel. The purpose of this study is to expand
this knowledge base by exploring the biologic
responses of female Vietnam nurse veterans.
Although there is more than a decade of research
and numerous publications looking at psychobiological
consequences of combat on male theater veterans,
there are no published biologic trials with female
Vietnam theater veterans. Results of studies with
male veterans can not necessarily be applied to female
veterans. The new study will provide data that will
help researchers to better understand the similarities
and differences in the ways that females and males
respond to stressful experiences.
The study is being conducted with a national outreach
that is unique, and provides an opportunity to gather
a large enough data pool to provide important
information about female Vietnam veterans.
Interested female Vietnam nurse veterans will be
contacted for an initial screening which will be accom-
plished by telephone or mail. Qualified nurse veterans
will be invited to travel to the laboratory in New
England for further testing. Travel expenses will be
paid by the study.
In order to qualify for the study, a female must have
served in an active duty nurse assignment in the U.S.
Armed Forces during the Vietnam era in Vietnam,
Laos, Cambodia or in the surrounding waters or airspace
of these countries. Participation will include an in-
depth interview, and a physiological assessment
including heart rate, skin conductance, an EEG, and
neuroendocrine measures.
To obtain more information about this study, contact
Meg Carson, R.N., Ph.D.
Vietnam Nurse Veteran Psychophysiology study
VA Research Service, 228 Maple St.
2nd Floor
Manchester, NH 03103.
Dr. Carson may be reached by phone at (603)626-6588.*


Army Nurse Corp 
          Most of the women who went to Vietnam as members 
           of the Army Nurse Corps were just coming of age. 
           And what a place it was to complete your journey to 
           adulthood. Their age, on average, was 23 &151; 
           most were just out of nursing school and looking for 
           adventure, or looking to serve. Of the more than 
           5000 Army nurses in Vietnam, few had more than 2 
           years of experience. All of them were volunteers.
           The nurses worked six days a week, 12 hours a day.
           When heavy casualties came in, everyone worked as
           long as it took, until there were no soldiers left to fix
           or save. The ANC nurses treated US GIs and Viet
           Cong POWs, American and Vietnamese civilians,
           women and children side by side.
           In 1973, two months after the cease-fire was
           declared, the last of the Army nurses left Vietnam.
           Most bore no visible scars. For many, the marks left
           on them were emotional and spiritual, good and bad.
           Says former Army nurse, Diana Dwan Poole, "My
           experience was both horrible and wonderful. Horrible
           because of the destruction I saw to human lives...
           Wonderful because of expansion of my heretofore
           limited world. I learned at a very young age, of the
           frailty of human life, and the... strength of the
           human spirit... This knowledge has helped me
           throughout life."
           Though seven Army nurses(and 1 Air Force Nurse)
           died in Vietnam, only one, Army Nurse Sharon Lane,
           died as the result of enemy fire.


In February 1967,
 24-year-old Judy Elbring arrived in Saigon. She
  wanted to put her nursing skills to the test
       and she wanted to serve her country.
"The day we arrived — oh God — it was hot, it was
           sticky, it was smelly, it was dangerous, there were
           things that were booby trapped ... Everything was
           green, and dust, and fences, and wire, and noise ...
           And I thought, what a fool I'd been ... This didn't
           look like an adventure to me; this looked very
           "I wasn't ready for seeing those kids with holes in
           their heads ... and with brains coming out of their
           heads and — and that they were going to die. I
           wasn't prepared to look in a man's face and know
          that he wasn't going to make it. I don't know that
           there's any preparation for that."
  In 1967, Liz Allen arrived in Vietnam with
         her master's degree in psychiatric nursing. She
     was a commissioned captain and assigned to
   a base in Cu Chi with the 25th Infantry Division.
"All those soldiers belong to somebody ... They
           belong to somebody. They got moms. They got
           wives. They got kids. They got somebody that loves
          them. I can decide to stay home. This is during the
           draft; they can't make that decision. They have to
           go. They're 19. They're 18."
           "And it was absolutely the loneliest time of my life.
           Because there is nobody to go to. Nobody to talk to
           ... and so you learn to keep your own counsel. You
           get set apart."
           "Women are warriors the same as men are warriors,
           and what this country owes them, if 'owe' is the word,
           is the same as we give any warrior. And that every
           time we sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" ... and we
           really get off on 'the rockets red glare, bombs
           bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our
           flag is still there' — that there are soldiers, both men
           and women, that have given that assurance, and you
           'owe' for that assurance. And if you don't want to pay
          it, don't sing the song."

Diana Dwan Poole, 22 years old, was already a
     two-year veteran when in 1969 she re-enlisted
     for a tour in Vietnam.
"A woman came up to me and asked me, 'How in the
           world did you keep your white uniforms clean over
           there?' What white uniform? This is what I wore [she
           grabs the lapels of her Army fatigues jacket] — same
           thing the guys were wearing: jungle boots, you know
           [she laughs] ... White uniforms!"
           "And the idiots that ran the place put this POW on
           my ward ... and in the bed next to him was the kid
           that the POW had blown his legs off ... Put 'em right
           next to each other. I had a fit. That kid is screaming,
          'Why is he there; he's the one that did this to me!'
           and he's right in the bed next to him. And that POW
           kept spitting in my face ... and I got in the bed and I
           tried to kill him. And that is very hard to admit [she
          laughs nervously]. I had my hands around his throat
           and I was str ... strang ... I was trying to kill him."

Kathy Splinter enrolled in the Women's Army
    Corps after her junior year of nursing school.
She was assigned to the intensive care ward of
   the evacuation hospital at Chu Lai
."We were all brand-new kids on the block ... doing
           our best ... flying by the seat of our pants. When we
           were on duty, acting as nurses, I really felt that we
           were treated as queens or as angels, I mean, the
           guys really respected us, I felt, and treated us well.
           Step out of that role, and you were a piece of meat."
           "And then, deathly, deathly quiet. Now we were all in
           night clothes, and flack jackets, and helmets,
           walking up to see the destruction of the unit. And it
           was then that we heard Sharon [Lane] was dead.
           When she died ... I was furious that she died.
           Because she didn't hurt enough to die, because
           death was really a release ... the pain. Death was
           much more merciful than having to continue on. And
           one of the quotes that was attributed to her after her
           death was her admiration of the Vietnamese people.
           And I remember when I heard that, saying, 'That's
           because she hasn't been here long enough ... She
           hasn't learned to hate.' And I can remember saying
           that, and writing home, and saying that, and being
           ashamed because I hated that much now, and yet
           we put on these happy little faces as though we
           didn't feel that way."

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