Thursday, 5 February 2015

The History of Women in The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War, the United States government has no idea how many women actually served. Record keeping at the time did not reflect a person’s gender, so the numbers vary from a low of 8,000 to a high of more than 12,000. Most of these women served as nurses, but they also served in the Women’s Army Corps, the Red Cross, and other government and related agencies. They nursed soldiers in field hospitals, served as intelligence analysts, and performed for the troops on stage and television to help them escape the horrors of war. All were volunteers; none were drafted.

American military leaders were relcuntant to send women abroad during the Vietnam War due to the unpredictable nature of guerilla warfare.  There were no battle lines and no one knew when or where the next attack would strike. Yet many American women wanted to serve their country by supporting deployed troops and making a difference where they could. By the end of the war approximately 11,000 military women had served in Southeast Asia along with an unknown number of American civilian women. All of the women who participated in the Vietnam War were volunteers.                

The Vietnam Women's Memorial Project was incorporated in 1984, and is a non-profit organization located in Washington, DC. The mission of the Vietnam Women's Memorial Foundation (formerly the Vietnam Women's Memorial Project) is to promote the healing of Vietnam women veterans through the placement of the Vietnam Women's Memorial on the grounds of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.; to identify the military and civilian women who served during the Vietnam war; to educate the public about their role; and to facilitate research on the physiological, psychological, and sociological issues correlated to their service.

civilians women in the war 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 them worked on behalf of the American Red Cross, Army Special Services, United Service Organizations (USO), Peace Corps, and various religious groups such as Catholic Relief Services.Those who volunteered with the Army Special Services operated libraries, service clubs and shops meant to boost the morale of military personnel deployed in Vietnam.

military women in the war Though members of the Army Nurse Corps were in Vietnam as early as 1956 to train Vietnamese women in nursing skills, larger numbers of American women didn’t begin to serve in Vietnam until 1963. At this time the Army Nurse Corps launched Operation Nightingale, which was an intensive effort to find volunteers. Once abroad, enlisted women worked in all branches of the military. 90% of them became nurses, while others worked as communications specialists, intelligence officers and support personnel in military headquarters.

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