The "other" Vietnam Vets
Everybody knows about the men who served in Vietnam. They have at least heard of the mentally trying conditions during the war and the resulting "post traumatic stress syndrome" (PTSD) so many veterans suffered from, or heard of the issues concerning negative public opinion of veterans for their role in a hated war. However, few are aware of the female role in the Vietnam War; women, the "other" veterans, shared in all of these problems and issues along with the gun-toting men. They were the nurses, and in A Piece of My Heart by Keith Walker the stories of many women are presented to better understand just how the Vietnam War affected women. Working in places like evacuation hospitals exposed women to the endless flow of casualties from the battlefield, and these experiences took major mental tolls upon the minds of the women who had to assist them, especially in their considerations for the value of human life. Women experienced other problems upon returning home such as the same PTSD and outlashes by anti-war protesters. Women were veterans of Vietnam just like the men, and they experienced many of the same problems as a result of their role there.
Women were exposed to an enormous amount of pain while in Vietnam. As veteran Rose Sandecki said, "[The Vietnam] War really did a number on all of us, the women as well as the men" (20). Nurses in Vietnam were exposed to a nonstop flow of casualties from the field. The landing of a Chinook with mass casualties on board had become a standard to Christine Schneider, a nurse in Da Nang. Practically every nurse’s story described the hospital scenes in Vietnam as "busy." Jill Mishkel explained that she experienced a minimum of at least one death per day. As Ms. Schneider described, "There was just too much death" (46). Ms. Schneider also mentioned, "Everybody was bad" (45); nurses only saw the bad because they were surrounded by it, day in and day out. Charlotte Miller...
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