Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Vietnam Nurses

I pretty much failed in my attempt celebrate veteran nurses last week for a Veteran's Day tribute.  Honestly, I just couldn't come up with the right words to talk about the nurses who served in Vietnam, my admiration of them is so big.

Back in the 1980's when I was working at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, I was introduced to some nurses who served in Vietnam during that war.  They had come to the hospital to speak to the nursing staff as a part of a Nurse Week celebration.  These nurses mentioned two books that changed my life and that I highly recommend. 

"Home Before Morning" was written by Lynda Van Devanter.  She tells her story so poignantly, it is phenomenal.  I also suggest "A Piece of My Heart", the story of 26 women who served in Vietnam. 

Nurses were sent to Vietnam unprepared for what they would have to do and then they were asked (told) to do things that nobody had ever considered that nurses should be doing.  These nurses, who basically made life and death decisions completely on their own in Vietnam, returned home to find that nursing here had not moved at the pace they had, they had no autonomy and struggled to fit in to the health care environment they had desired to be a part of when they went to nursing school.  They had no support, were given no credit for what they had done, even treated like criminals for the work they did to save lives and to provide soldiers with a dignified death.  They are heroes.

I have both books, you are welcome to borrow them.  You won't be sorry.

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