During the Vietnam War, more than 265,000 American women served the military and 11,000 women served in Vietnam, with 90% working as volunteer nurses.
Responsibilities included massive causality situations involving amputations, wounds, and chest tubes for their patients. Numerous women also served in nearby countries such as Japan, Guam, and the Philippines.
Members of the Army Nurse Corps were in Vietnam as early as 1956 to train Vietnamese women in nursing skills. By 1963, larger numbers of Army Corps Nurses arrived in Vietnam. Over the years, these women worked long hours to aid the servicemembers killed and injured in war.
Guerilla warfare made it impossible to be safe behind the lines, as women received injuries during battle both visible and invisible. Air Force nurses participated in air evacuation missions. Navy women served on hospital ships such as USS Repose and USS Sanctuary off the coast of Vietnam.
In addition to military deaths, 59 women civilian who worked for U.S. governmental agencies and other various organizations such as the Red Cross and the Peace Corps.
Of the women who served, seven Army nurses died in the conflict:
- Capt. Elanor Grace Alexander
- 2nd Lt. Pamela Dorothy Donovan
- 2nd Lt. Carol Ann Elizabeth Drazba
- Lt. Col. Annie Ruth Graham
- 2nd Lt. Elizabeth Ann Jones
- 1st Lt. Sharon Ann Lane
- 1st Lt. Hedwig Diane Orlowski
- Also, Air Force Capt. Mary Therese Klinker died, one of the final casualties of the war.
Upon returning to the U.S., women faced hostile treatment like their male counterparts. Women rarely spoke about their service. Limited information about American women in Vietnam complicate knowledge regarding health issues. Many suffered complications from Agent Orange and post-traumatic stress disorder.
VA honors the service of these women and all Vietnam Veterans.
- An estimated 3.4 million U.S. servicemembers deployed to Southeast Asia
- About 2.7 million deployed to Vietnam
- 265,000 women served during the Vietnam War
- 11,000 women were stationed in Vietnam
- Army Corps Nurses arrived in Vietnam as early as 1956
- 90% of women who served were volunteer nurses
- 8 American military women were killed the Vietnam War
- 59 civilian women were killed the Vietnam War