An estimated 11,000 military women were stationed in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. They were aviation controllers, physicians, intelligence officers, clerks, administrative assistants, confidants and morale boosters. However, nearly 90 percent of all women who served overseas were nurses.
Most arrived ill prepared for the oppressive climate and the level of devastation specific to the Vietnam War. The onslaught of casualties, the overwhelming need for triage, and the demands to treat multiple severe wounds, tropical diseases, and fevers, brought women in medicine to a new level of responsibility and decision-making. These brave volunteers returned home without receiving recognition of their accomplishments or understanding of the traumatic experiences they endured.
Pictured top: Helen Vartigian (1941-2014),
U.S. Army nurse stationed in Vietnam
at the 12th Evacuation hospital,
November 1966-November 1967.