It was in 1901 that the US Congress formally established the US Army Nurse Corps. Prior to this time, a federally established civilian commission the US Sanitary Commission handled most of the medical and nursing care of Union armies together with necessary acquisition and transportation of medical goods. A famous figure, Clara Barton, whose Civil War activities earned her the name "American Nightengale" was attached to the Commission. In 1882 she helped found and served as the first president of the International Red Cross. Civilian nurses were contracted by the Army during the 1898 Spanish-American War.
All of the women who served in the US Army Nurse Corps in Vietnam were volunteers. They were, more often than not, put in locations of high danger. In theater, they performed surgeries and treated soldiers for drug addictions. Prior to deploying, they were given little or no training to deal with the kind of carnage they would see. Women who had been in the military for awhile, quickly learned that the VA (Veterans Administration) had a history of ignoring women. They were virtually ignored upon their return to the US and unrecognized by Veterans groups, being denied membership or sent to join ladies auxiliaries.
An Army Nurse Vietnam Veteran Shares Her Experiences
Prayer of an Army Nurse
Hear my prayer in silence before Thee I ask for
courage each day.
Grant that I may be worthy of the sacred pledge of
And the lives entrusted to my care.
Help me to offer hope and cheer in the hearts of men
and my country,
For their faith inspires me to give the world and nursing
Instill in me the understanding and compassion of those
who led the way,
For I am thankful to You for giving me this life to live.
-Major US Army (Ret.) Mildred I. Clark, RN
Thank You Women of the US Army Nurse Corps Vietnam
*We begin our memorial of the many women who served in the Vietnam War with USArmy Nurse Corps