*Looking for answers to your COVID questions? The #VetResources email on 3/24 erroneously linked to this post. The correct link is https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/86196/covid-19-vaccine-questions-answered-need/. Edited 3/25/21.

Army Veteran Diane Carlson Evans, founder of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation, joined Borne the Battle to discuss her decision to become a nurse, time serving in Vietnam as a combat nurse, decision to re-enlist after working in a civilian hospital and her fight for a women’s memorial on the National Mall.

Growing up on a farm in Minnesota, Evans always knew she wanted to be a nurse. After her second oldest brother was drafted, she had no doubt that she would go to Vietnam herself. So she went to Minneapolis, found an Army Nurse Recruiter and asked how she, too, could go to Vietnam.

Evans enlisted and served in Vietnam from 1968-69 as a trauma nurse in the surgical and burn wards at Vung Tau and later as head nurse in a surgical unit at Pleiku. She treated wounded soldiers and civilians, many of whom came straight from the worst of the fighting.

When she came home, Evans worked in a civilian hospital for three weeks. She wasn’t allowed to do many of the procedures that had been part of her everyday duties in Vietnam and she felt stifled. She left the position when she realized she wasn’t suited to work with those who couldn’t understand her experience.

In 1984, Evans incorporated the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project as a non-profit organization after visiting the Vietnam War Memorial and realizing that women weren’t visible. In fact, there weren’t any memorials for women Veterans in the nation’s capital and, when she brought it up, faced great opposition from those who felt the idea was misguided and unnecessary. It then became her goal to bring visibility to the service and sacrifice of the women who served in Vietnam.

After nearly 10 years of Congressional and federal hearings, the project gained enough support to receive approval for a statue. On November 11, 1993, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial was dedicated as part of the larger Vietnam War Memorial.

Vietnam Women's Memorial

Photo of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington, DC. Photo courtesy of Kalacaw.

Today, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation continues to identify the women who served, document their needs, and facilitate research to address those needs and to educate visitors about the service of women during the Vietnam War.

In this episode, Evans shares:

  • Her path to nursing and Vietnam.
  • Stories from her time serving as a combat nurse in Vietnam.
  • Her return home and reenlistment.
  • The treatment of Vietnam Veterans.
  • The story behind and fight for the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.

Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:


Mentioned in this Episode:


Jana Jenkins is a podcast intern with VA’s Digital Media Engagement team. She is an undergraduate student at the College of Saint Benedict studying Communication.

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19 Comments

  1. Thomas William Lewis April 9, 2021 at 8:26 pm

    Thank you for your service to our country. You are truly a hero. I was also @ Pleiku Aug. 69-July 70 as a Sgt. in the Air Force stationed at the air base. Thank God for the 71st Evac. You saved a lot of good soldiers

  2. Jose A Hernandez April 3, 2021 at 4:26 am

    Ms Evans, WELCOME BACK and Thank You for YOUR Service. I’m a Vietnam Vet myself and cannot find the words to express myself to thank you and the many nurses who went to Nam and saw your share of wounded and the loss of many soldiers; it’s just amazing how YOU Nurses were able to handle the stress, pressure and personal feelings while caring for the soldiers. I can imagine how hard it must’ve been seeing the same soldier coming back after being “patched up” and back again or dying on your shift. I often visited the 3rd Field Hospital, 51st Field Hospital, U.S. Army Hospital, Saigon to see if I came across with someone I knew and while there I got to see how y’all nurses performed your duties sometimes with little or no breaks. Military “Honchos” DON’T realize how valuable your service were (are) and I really appreciate all the work y’all did. Your monument in D. C. represents VERY LITTLE, Y’all deserve A LOT MORE for your service.

  3. Al dube March 29, 2021 at 10:41 pm

    Those nurses were so so valuable. I had the opportunity for their nursing talent twice. 1st was wounded and choppered into field hospital in Cu Chi and coming off chopper and put me on gurney and 1st on to help me was a female nurse and saying ” you will be okay”, comforting words. 2nd time, Saigon hospital, major malaria attack. Don’t remember a thing but arriving in a jeep, put on a stretcher. The next thing remember was waking up a few days later and a smiling white nurses outfit saying HELLO AND WELCOME BACK, YOU SLEPT FOR SOMETIME, lol

  4. Georgie Kelley March 27, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    So, I clicked on the bar for learning more about SARS-CoV2 vaccine. Bu the link must be broken because it takes me to the Article Born to Battle: 243

    [Editor: There was a mistake in the email. At the top of the BtB blog post, there is a correct link to take you where you intended to go.]

  5. John Evans March 26, 2021 at 9:57 am

    I was a medic who served on the ICU in the Army hospital at Fort Ord, California for 7 months, in 1969 and 1970, before being deployed to Vietnam. There I served with the 3rd Squadron of the 4th Cavalry in the 25th Division and was out in the field for my complete tour. The OJT training I received from the nursing staff at Fort Ord was invaluable to my service there. I never lost a wounded soldier who was still alive when I got to him because of that training. God bless those dedicated nurses who took their time to teach me what I would need to know in my Vietnam assignments.

  6. Robert R Terry March 26, 2021 at 2:00 am

    You promised answers to some questions.
    Q: I already had COVID-19. Do I still need to receive the vaccine?

    What is the answer??

    [Editor: YES: https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/86196/covid-19-vaccine-questions-answered-need/ ]

  7. GEORGE BILLIOUX March 25, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    i am VietNam vet and like the fellow above was reading about Covid and if I need to get vaccine. But as he said “all I got was this infomercial”

    George A Billioux
    U S Navy

    [Editor: That was a mistake in the email. Here is the correct link: https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/86196/covid-19-vaccine-questions-answered-need/ ]

  8. Tom Hardy March 25, 2021 at 5:23 pm

    This message is for Diane Carlson Evans You may be a little mistaken about the soldiers who you took care of while in the Army especially in VN. We worshiped you ladies. The civilain public was unappreciative but the military guys like myself are so proud of you then and now I cannot put words to it. I was drafted in 68 and wish I would have had the priviledge of saluting you. God Bless you Diane. Tom

  9. Jerry C. Miller March 25, 2021 at 1:09 pm

    Many thanks to Diane Evans,

    What a great nurse who saw more blood and guts, death and dying than anyone should ever have to see.
    I salute her for all she’s done and continues to do,

    COL Jerry Miller
    US Army, Ret.
    Vietnam 1966 & 67

    • Sam Hill March 26, 2021 at 12:11 am

      I would not have volunteered, but I was proud to do my duty to the best of my ability. Not one single lady had to be there. They were there for us, the men on the ground. They deserve a memorial as much as anyone else who has risked it all for the love of this country. God bless them all. A man who is hurt bad, or thinks he may die, misses his mother, or his wife, more than anything else in this life. I tear up with gratitude for these wonderful women.

  10. Samuel Ridder II March 25, 2021 at 9:44 am

    Covid questions are answered after you change Categories, a drop down menu, along the right hand side of the page. Select Coronavirus and you will see questions and answers.

  11. Alix May March 25, 2021 at 8:59 am
  12. Zenon Norbut March 25, 2021 at 8:37 am

    I did this also?? Questions answered about “do I need the COVID vaccine”…ain’t answered at all. Link goes to Born the Battle. Fix it, or don’t post it!

  13. Ray White March 25, 2021 at 8:33 am

    This is what I as looking for, why was the subject hijacked, or was the subject just a chumming link to get us to go to something else? And why did making my FIRST post make me posting too fast?

    COVID-19 vaccine: Do I need it?

    Q: I already had COVID-19. Do I still need to receive the vaccine?

    Q: I’m not in a high-risk population and the mortality rate of COVID-19 is low. Do I still need to receive the vaccine?

    Q: With so many people infected around the country, everyone should be immune soon. Do I need to receive the vaccine?

  14. Rick Tober March 25, 2021 at 8:24 am

    I clicked on a link for answers to questions on COVID-19 vaccine and all I got was this infomercial. The LEAST you could do is post the information that was SUPPOSED to be available.

  15. Jon Radakovic March 25, 2021 at 12:29 am

    Questions answered about “do I need the COVID vaccine”…ain’t answered at all. Link goes to Born the Battle. Fix it, or don’t post it!

  16. Eric Davison March 24, 2021 at 11:25 pm

    I was looking for vaccine info, not this silly podcast.

  17. THOMAS WINSTEAD March 24, 2021 at 10:17 pm

    This post concerning Vietnam nurses brings to mind an experience I had right after a trip to Vietnam. I was based at Clark Air Base in the Philippines as Director of the AFPN (AFRTS) network. My crew and I put together a local USO show for the patients in the Clark AB hospital, wounded from Vietnam; some of these we had helped unload from the aircraft that had brought them in from the battlefield. Our show consisted of Clark AB school students who had been in a talent program on AFRTS there at Clark.
    The ambulatory patients came in wheelchairs and walkers and walking-canes; The patients who were non-ambulatory who could not move about on their own, were helped or brought down by the nurses.

    We were the “Bob Hope USO Show” of the day.

    What brought special attention to the day and tears to the eyes of those attending, especially the nurses, was one performance. A couple of nurses were attending a wounded patient, sitting in a wheelchair, whom they said was paralyzed and had not moved any muscle or spoken a word since arriving at Clark. It was about midway through the show when three of our young lady students took the stage imitating a popular female group and began performing their famous recording, “Please Mr. Postman” (I can’t recall the name of the professional group). However the three students sounded and performed just as if they were the professionals.
    I was standing by the wheelchair with several nurses when they suddenly burst into tears.

    I asked why, that’s when they told me about the Vietnam wounded man in the wheelchair — he had started moving his fingers and hand slightly, in tune with the rhythm the girls were singing; he even tried moving his lips and uttering sounds. It was not only the nurses who had tears in their eyes, so did I and it spread throughout those attending.
    I still get those tears when I recall this incident, like now.

    I realize this is just a small story, a small incident lost in the magnitude of the big battle; but to some it was the victory! Whi knows, maybe Diane Evans was one of the nurses that day.(?)

    TOM WINSTEAD, MSGT, USAF (Ret)
    1948-1968

  18. Frazeur S Benedict March 24, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    My respect for Diane Carlson Evans is complete. This is a generational Awesome Human Being. If I could meet this lady, I would simply say, “Thank You for all you do.”

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