Skip to main content
Back to Results
Cover image of Officer, Nurse, Woman

Officer, Nurse, Woman

The Army Nurse Corps in the Vietnam War

Kara Dixon Vuic

Publication Date
Binding Type

Winner, 2010 Lavinia L. Dock Award, American Association for the History of Nursing

An American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year in History and Public Policy

"‘I never got a chance to be a girl,’ Kate O’Hare Palmer lamented, thirty-four years after her tour as an army nurse in Vietnam. Although proud of having served, she felt that the war she never understood had robbed her of her innocence and forced her to grow up too quickly. As depicted in a photograph taken late in her tour, long hours in the operating room exhausted her both physically and mentally. Her tired eyes and gaunt face...

Winner, 2010 Lavinia L. Dock Award, American Association for the History of Nursing

An American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year in History and Public Policy

"‘I never got a chance to be a girl,’ Kate O’Hare Palmer lamented, thirty-four years after her tour as an army nurse in Vietnam. Although proud of having served, she felt that the war she never understood had robbed her of her innocence and forced her to grow up too quickly. As depicted in a photograph taken late in her tour, long hours in the operating room exhausted her both physically and mentally. Her tired eyes and gaunt face reflected th e weariness she felt after treating countless patients, some dying, some maimed, all, like her, forever changed. Still, she learned to work harder and faster than she thought she could, to trust her nursing skills, and to live independently. She developed a way to balance the dangers and benefits of being a woman in the army and in the war. Only fourteen months long, her tour in Vietnam profoundly affected her life and her beliefs."

Such vivid personal accounts abound in historian Kara Dixon Vuic’s compelling look at the experiences of army nurses in the Vietnam War. Drawing on more than 100 interviews, Vuic allows the nurses to tell their own captivating stories, from their reasons for joining the military to the physical and emotional demands of a horrific war and postwar debates about how to commemorate their service.

Vuic also explores the gender issues that arose when a male-dominated army actively recruited and employed the services of 5,000 nurses in the midst of a growing feminist movement and a changing nursing profession. Women drawn to the army’s patriotic promise faced disturbing realities in the virtually all-male hospitals of South Vietnam. Men who joined the nurse corps ran headlong into the army's belief that women should nurse and men should fight.

Officer, Nurse, Woman brings to light the nearly forgotten contributions of brave nurses who risked their lives to bring medical care to soldiers during a terrible—and divisive—war.

Reviews

Reviews

Vuic offers an important new contribution to how we understand women's participation in the U.S. military after World War II.

Vuic's book is important reading for anyone wanting a more thorough understanding of more than just the Vietnam War or nursing history. Its relevance also encompasses enduring complexities of gender, cultural representations, and collective memory. Highly recommended.

Utilizing a feminist paradigm, Kara Dixon Vuic's evocative and unique dissection of the collective gender experiences of Army Nurse Corps officers in Vietnam and its aftermath breaks new ground in the history of military nursing... I found Officer, Nurse, Woman quite intriguing. I can unreservedly recommend it as a valuable addition to the literature documenting nurse participation in the Vietnam War.

Excellent study... The strength of this book is Vuic's main source: nurses who served in Vietnam... Officer, Nurse,Woman enriches a growing body of literature on second-wave feminism’s broad impact and successfully challenges and complicates the dominant narrative of military history and destabilizes familiar categories—especially our notions about women and war.

A well researched, well written account that will be used by professors and students who wish to understand better the complexity of gendered military service.

See All Reviews
About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
304
ISBN
9781421404448
Illustration Description
16 halftones
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: "Lady, you're in the army now"
1. "The Bright Adventure of Army Nursing": Meeting Nursing Demands for the Vietnam War
2. "An officer and a gentleman": Gender and a Changing

Acknowledgments
Introduction: "Lady, you're in the army now"
1. "The Bright Adventure of Army Nursing": Meeting Nursing Demands for the Vietnam War
2. "An officer and a gentleman": Gender and a Changing Army
3. "A wonderful, horrible experience": Nursing Education and Practice
4. "Helmets and hair curlers": Gender and Wartime Nursing
5. "I'm afraid we're going to have to just change our ways": Wives, Mothers, and Pregnant Nurses in the Army
6. "You mean we get women over here?": Gender and Sexuality in the War Zone
7. "Not All Women Wore Love Beads in the Sixties": Postwar Depictions of Vietnam War Nurses
Conclusion: Officers, Nurses, and Women
Notes
Essay on Sources
Index

Author Bio