The Rewards of Wartime Nursing in Vietnam
In Vietnam, nurses could easily become overwhelmed by work demands, fears, loneliness, and losses. But the same stress-filled world that produced so much strain also provided a balance. There was a rewarding side to the work and life in a war zone. The soldiers they helped heal, the feelings of being needed and appreciated, and, most importantly, the camaraderie that developed between nurses and other Americans helped individuals survive their wartime journeys.
The great majority of the patients, or course, recovered and their recoveries gave the nurses' tour a balance. Helping to save lives was the basic reason most nurses volunteered to go to Vietnam and, working with other medical personnel, they were very successful in achieving this objective. Ninety-eight percent of the wounded patients who entered military hospitals in Vietnam survived.1 Nurses felt appreciated by the soldiers who seemed so grateful to have American women caring for them and their comrades. Nurses symbolized the protective, orderly way of life of the home the men yearned for. Watching the nurses