Women Who Sacrificed After the Vietnam War
Of the 265,000 women who served during Vietnam, nearly 10,000 military women served in-country during the conflict. Barred from combat, these women served in healthcare, communications, intelligence, and administrative positions. Civilian women served as foreign correspondents for news agencies, worked for organizations such as the American Red Cross and the USO, or served in other government agencies, such as USAID or at the embassy.
Like the men who served in combat, many female veterans of the Vietnam War era returned home to battle post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) while others may have suffered the effects of exposure to chemical agents. 20 percent of women experienced PTSD at some point after the war, according to the 2015 study published in JAMA Psychiatry, a publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Most of these women were nurses and many are still living with the condition, researchers found.
VVMF’s In Memory program recognizes veterans whose lives were cut short as a result of their service in Vietnam but are not eligible for inclusion on The Wall as a result of Department of Defense (DoD) guidelines. Examples of causes of death that do fit the criteria for inclusion in VVMF’s In Memory program include PTSD related illnesses / suicide and exposure to Agent Orange and similar chemicals.
Lynda Van Devanter Buckley, Margaret Ann Haskins-Rose, Suzanne Margaret Ciscoe, and Bonnie Jean McWilliams served during the Vietnam War and later died as a result of their service. They are the only four women to be honored through the In Memory program
Lynda Van Devanter Buckley of Virginia, died November 15, 2002 at her home after a long illness. She was 55. Buckley served in Vietnam from 1969 and 1970 as a surgical nurse with the 71st Evacuation Hospital in Pleiku, near the Cambodian border. She went on to become a prominent advocate for women veterans, including heading the Vietnam Veterans of America Women’s Project that later built the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. Buckley suffered from systemic collagen vascular disease, which she attributed to wartime exposure to chemical agents and pesticides.
Margaret Ann Haskins-Rose of Washington, D.C. enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) in February 1968. She volunteered for Vietnam for one year and was assigned to the 27th Surgical Unit at Chu Lai. She died on June 11, 1986 at 41 years old. “Metastatic Brain Tumor” and “Carcinoma” were listed on her death certificate.
Suzanne M. Ciscoe of Pennsylvania volunteered to join the United States Army Nurses Corps. She completed a tour of duty at the 12th Evacuation Hospital in Cu Chi, Vietnam in 1969, receiving the Army Commendation Medal as recognition of her many medical dustoff missions. She passed away at the age of 42.
Bonnie Jean McWilliams taught school for 5 years before entering the Women’s Army Corps. She embarked on her military career, earning numerous prestigious awards over the next 21 years, including the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with First Oak Leaf Cluster, among others. Bonnie saw active duty in Vietnam from June of 1967 through June 1968 and retired in 1973, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. “She was a soldier through and through before losing her battle with kidney disease” in 2008.
As we continue to honor those who served, let us never forget that women were an integral part of the Vietnam story and that their sacrifice matters.
If you lost a loved one as a result of their service in Vietnam, apply to honor them through the In Memory program by clicking here.