Volunteering for the Vietnam War
Why would a woman choose to go to war -- especially the war in Vietnam? Men did not line up at the recruiting stations and women did not gather under the sign of the Red Cross. We remember men as draft resisters and women as draft counselors. And yet, as figures from the Department of Defense show, the great majority of those who served in Vietnam -- men and women -- volunteered.1 They did not shout about their choices. They went quietly. The fifty women in this book all volunteered for military service. Some joined the military to begin a career, some to get more training, some to pay for a nursing education. Thirty-four of the fifty volunteered to go to Vietnam. Only four of the others objected to being sent.
History and heredity made them go. Most nurses in the 1960s and early 1970s (the time of nurses' involvement in the war) were white, working class and middle class Catholic and Protestant daughters whose fathers were veterans of World War II and whose grandfathers recalled the Great War. Some were inspired by heroes like the fictitious Cherry Ames, the young nurse who