The Role Of Nurses In The Vietnam War

2022 words - 8 pages

The Role of Nurses in the Vietnam War

On March 15, 1965, large shipments of troops arrived in South Vietnam. These troops occupied the country until 1973. During this time, many men fought and died for the United States of America. The numerous nurses that operated on thousands of soldiers are often forgotten. The soldiers that the nurses operated on were usually blown apart and crippled for life. The nurses worked diligently to save these men. Even by working hard to save these men they were not recognized as army personnel by the public. The Vietnamese citizens and even the male American soldiers looked down upon the nurses. The United States did not acknowledge the nurses that served in the Vietnam War until 1993. The nurses that served in the Vietnam War, although commonly unrecognized, served as bravely as their soldier counterparts, and some suffered much of the same mental and physical distress.
The nurses were not considered actual army personal. They were bothered by the Vietnamese street peddlers. In one incident, as a nurse was walking home, two boys asked for money. The nurses said "no", as was army policy, and kept on walking. The boys then smeared black shoe polish on her dress, legs, and shoes (Smith 59). These same boys would not even consider harassing a male officer, for fear of being put in prison or even killed. Acts such as these were common because he nurses were not able to defend themselves. The nurses were sometimes treated sometimes treated similarly by male soldiers. One example took place when a nurse was walking to the hospital for her shift. "My uniform was a joke, thanks to the driver who though that it would be funny to splash me with his jeep" (Smith 161). The soldiers would seldom do this to the other men in the armed forces for fear of being punished. The men did not worry about being punished when doing things to the nurses, knowing that they would never suffer any consequences. The attitudes of the men were completely different when the women went into a bar. The soldiers and generals would invite the nurses to parties and treat them nice; but, their sole purpose would be to sleep with them (Marshall 252). The officers should have treated the nurses with respect. The most severe instance in which the male officers showed that they did not recognize the nurse as army personnel was in two cases in which nurses were murdered (Marshall 23). This should not have been tolerated. The two soldiers did not even receive severe repercussions, one was court-marshaled and the other had nothing had nothing happen to him. If these soldiers murdered male soldiers they would have been court-marshaled and possibly received the death penalty. Aside from the Vietnamese people and the army personnel, the army as a whole did not consider the nurses important. The Vietcong pounded the airbase with mortars most of the night, and the security at the hospital was not even tightened (Smith 171). This...

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