Finally, Vietnam veterans are receiving their just due. When Vietnam vets returned home they were not met with the appreciation that returning soldiers receive today. But one class of veterans that have been overlooked and forgotten by many are Vietnam women veterans.
Because women were not expected to be in combat areas at this time and many people do not realize that women served in this war, these brave women have gotten little recognition. But the truth is that women served bravely alongside men, although in different capacities and with different roles to play.
How Many Vietnam Women Veterans are There?
The number of Vietnam women veterans is believed to be almost 7,500 but this number may not be entirely accurate. The draft was initiated on January 1, 1970. Women were excluded from having to register, yet many volunteered even though they did not have to. During the Vietnam War, many women were classified as volunteers.
In addition to the U.S. military women who served in Vietnam, an unknown number of female civilians willingly gave their services on Vietnamese soil during the conflict.
Many of the women who served in the Vietnam War did so as nurses and medical personnel. More than 80 percent of the female veterans from this war were nurses, although these women often faced the same situations and risks as male military members. When men were wounded, it was often the women who tended to them and provided the necessary care.
What is the Long Term Health Outcomes of Women’s Service During the Vietnam Era Study?
The Long Term Health Outcomes of Women’s Service During the Vietnam Era Study involves the study of Vietnam women veterans and the impact that the war had on their health. It is the most comprehensive study performed so far on the mental and physical health effects that serving in the Vietnam War had on the women involved.
The goal of this study, also referred to as the Health of Vietnam Era Women’s Study, is to estimate just how prevalent PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other mental and physical health problems are for female veterans who served during the Vietnam War. It is hoped that the study will help improve the outcomes and treatments for veterans today.
Children of Women Vietnam Veterans Health Care Benefits Program
The Children of Women Vietnam Veterans Health Care Benefits program is a program for children of Vietnam women veterans. This program is operated by the Department of Veteran Affairs and it provides medical care reimbursement for treatment associated with covered birth defects and other medical conditions.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Women on the Wall
Many people do not realize that there are Vietnam women veterans listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. These women served their country with honor during the conflict and they lost their lives because of this service. Women who are featured on the wall for their service during the Vietnam War include:
- 1st Lt. Sharon Ann Lane
- 2nd Lt. Pamela Dorothy Donovan
- Col. Annie Ruth Graham
- Mary Therese Klinker
- 2nd Lt. Carol Ann Elizabeth Drazba
- 2nd Lt. Elizabeth Ann Jones
- Eleanor Grace Alexander
- 1st Lt. Hedwig Diane Orlowski
Women in Combat during the Vietnam War
The Vietnam women veterans who served during this period in American history were not authorized to serve in combat, yet war has a way of blurring lines and boundaries. Most of these women braved some of the same dangers, situations, and environments as men did. While these female veterans were not classified as being in combat, they were often on or near the battlefield helping and tending to the wounded.
Women veterans served in field hospitals and were often close to or even on the front lines of the war, close to the fighting. Their service and sacrifices were often kept quiet or downplayed because they were women. Females suffered from PTSD, shell shock, and other mental health disorders the same way that men did. Many served in combat situations but were not recognized for doing so.
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The worst part of war should not be coming home.