Poem by Barb Piatt L.A. Times Obituary with Photo
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In Memoriam . . . 
Lynda Van Devanter 

Press Release November 15, 2002 
(301) 585-4000 Contact: Mokie Porter

VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA MOURNS THE LOSS OF LYNDA VAN DEVANTER

(Washington, D.C) - Lynda Van Devanter, one of the nation's foremost women's veterans advocates, died November 15, at her home in Herndon, Virginia, after a long illness. "This is an extremely sad occasion," said Thomas H. Corey, national president of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). "Lynda was a giant in the field of veterans affairs. She was a forceful and effective advocate for all veterans. She was a valued friend, a devoted colleague, an accomplished nurse, and a loving mother and wife. She will be missed terribly."

Lynda Van Devanter, who was born in 1947, served as a U.S. Army nurse at the 71st Evacuation Hospital in Pleiku from 1969-70. In 1979, a year after the founding of Vietnam Veterans of America, she helped launch and became the head of VVA's Women's Project. She also began counseling other Vietnam veterans and conducting seminars around the country.

In 1983, she wrote a highly acclaimed memoir, Home Before Morning, which was reissued in 2002. "Lynda's book stands as one of the most powerful, evocative, and influential Vietnam War memoirs," said Marc Leepson, the arts editor of VVA's national newspaper, The VVA Veteran. "Home Before Morning" changed people's attitudes about the women who served in the Vietnam War, especially the nurses who faced the brutality of the war every day and whose service was all but ignored during the war and in the years immediately after."

Vietnam Veterans of America honored Lynda Van Devanter with its Excellence in the Arts Award in 1987 and with the VVA Commendation Medal in March of 2002. "It was the least we could do to recognize what Lynda has done for America's veterans. She truly exemplified our motto, 'In Service to America.' Her loss is a tragedy for her family and for all Americans who care about veterans,"said Corey. 

### Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is "Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another." 

Vietnam Veterans of America
8605 Cameron Street, Suite 400 Silver Spring, Maryland  20910-3710 301-585-4000, Fax 301-585-0519, 1-800-VVA-1316 Copyright 2002 by the Vietnam Veterans of America. All rights reserved.

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For Lynda -- With Love

Home before morning
was where she thought
she was headed so long ago
Departing the grip
of Vietnam
But she didn't really know
That her country would not
feel like home anymore
She'd be adrift upon the land
And like other veterans
of that War
She struggled to understand.

For a part of her remained behind
And in her dreams she would often find
herself walking the hospital halls
and surgical wards
that surfaced in her mind.

The choppers flying in again
loaded to the brim
with Wounded fallen in the
War
Torn in life and limb.

Sometimes at night she lived
once more, the surgeries without end
the flash of scalpel, clamp and sponge
Attempts to heal, to mend
Those who no one here could ever
put back together
again.

In other dreams she won those wars
with all her care and skill
Pulled back that soul upon the brink
Her fierce insistence that
there be some they will not kill.
And through the night the choppers land
bringing more and more
as she drives her tired body on
across the bloody floor.

Years after, she discovered
a wound that was her own
It came with her from Vietnam
Like a stowaway in her bones,
And gathered strength as years went by
though hidden, quiet, still it
Planned all along to take her
and it slowly bent her to its will.

To everything there is a season
and a purpose under the sun
Some healings are meant to
grow whole here
But some healings are only begun.

Like it came for so many in
years gone by
The dustoff came for her today
She recognized the sound of the blades
as they lifted her away
And she knew if she could just hang on
She'd make it out okay.
She's holding on to that promise
from out of the distant past
She'll be Home Before Morning
tomorrow
Truly Home Before Morning
at last.

-----------------------
November 15, 2002 by Barb Piatt

Remembering Lynda Van Devanter Buckley
Surgical Nurse, Army, Vietnam War

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It seemed as if we have been having nothing but lousy weather here in Northern Virginia recently.  On only two occasions within the past two weeks have we experienced the sun.  On both of those occasions, I have put on my old navy blues to attend the funeral services for fellow Vietnam Vets.

When I decided to go to the services today, I felt a bit strange because I didn't believe that I had known Linda very well.  I was wrong!  I had talked to her over the phone a couple of times a few years ago about some info on the VVHP Bookshelf on her books.  I was also aware of her outstanding work in the VVA and the she had helped many of the Nam nurses and other veterans find their way into recovery programs.  However, I believed that my trip today was more to honor a fellow Vietnam veteran than say good bye to a friend.

Prior to the services, I had wondered a bit about why Linda was not being laid to rest at Arlington Cemetery.  My answer came during the service with the ministers first words.  When Linda mustered out of the military after her tour in Nam, she was told that as a combat nurse, she would be eligible for a full military burial service at Arlington Cemetery with flag, military honor guard and 21 gun salute.  Her response was that they could give her the flag to put on her coffin, she earned that.  However, she had seen enough damage caused by guns in her life and wanted doves instead of guns at her funeral.  She had in fact, planned her own service at that moment, those long years ago.

The funeral started outside the Church with the release of 21 white doves that promptly circled over the church 2 or 3 times as if saying good-bye and then flew off into a beautiful sunlight sky.

While no funeral service is ever a happy occasion, this one came as close as I've ever seen in my life.  This was not the typical somber veterans service.  In truth, it was magnificent. It was full of laughter at Linda's antics over the years, of wonderful memories of some the people she had helped in her life, of children singing and a final beautiful rendition of "Amazing Grace" sung by her lovely teenage daughter (and what a voice that kid has).  It was truly a celebration of her life, which was much much more than I had ever known or expected.

When visiting the casket in the Funeral Home prior to the service, I had not recognized Linda.  It was only when I entered the church and was handed the program that my heart skipped a beat.  There on the cover of the program was a photograph of the same smiling lady that I had spent so many hours working with on AA service programs years ago.  The same determined lady that I had lost many arguments with, or more appropriately, the same lady who had always brought me around to her way of thinking about what was right with respect to helping other people.  I had indeed come to say good bye to a friend, and a friend that I had learned much from.

I hope that as a soldier, Linda would not mind that I offer the old navy send off. Linda, may you always find fair winds and following seas........

Steve Robbins, RMC(AC), USNR, Ret. 
Project Jenny / Airborne Radio & TV Broadcast 
Blue Eagle III (131641) / Saigon 66 / AFVN-THVN TV 
Blue Eagle I (131627) / DaNang 67-69 / SOG PSYOPS Radio 

Bullet Women in Vietnam Bullet Many Women Served Bullet Red Cross
Bullet Military Nurses Bullet Military Women Bullet Get Back in Touch
Bullet Bibliographies Bullet In Memoriam Bullet Free Monthly Newsletter
Bullet Videos/Stuff to Buy Bullet Guest Book/Locater Bullet Health Stuff
Bullet Photo Tours Bullet Books Bullet Help for Students

My Vietnam Related Websites:
button Women in Vietnam ~ Read about ALL the women who served . . .
The Irish on the Wall ~ An effort to locate the Irish who died in Vietnam
button Tim O'Brien's Home Page ~ National Book Award Winner and Americal Vet
button Emily's Poetry ~ By a Red Cross Donut Dolly
button Shrapnel in the Heart ~ The most moving book you will read on Vietnam
button All About Vietnam    ~ An annotated bibliography of books about Vietnam for sale thru Amazon Worldwide!
button Battle Dressing ~
button Project Hearts and Minds ~ Help put Viet Nam back together
button Photos from a Holts' Military History Tour ~ My trip to Vietnam, February 1998

My Other Websites:|
Maybe Later . . . ~ My Creative Nonfiction
Irish in Korea ~ Irish men and women who gave their lives in the Korean War
Literature of the Korean War ~ Don't let the literature be forgotten
Samuel Pepys ~ One of my favorite authors
Chicago Theatre Z - A ~ This is the best theater town in the country!
Soccer Literature ~ I'm a fan and I read
O'Leary Lantern ~ Fire! Fire! Fire!
Gil Thorp ~ THE Coach (apologies to The General!)
Poetry of the First World War ~ Owen, Hardy and others
Chi-COW-go ~ Cowz plus Commentary (this used to be a cow town)
Graham Fulton, Scottish Poet ~ Charles Manson Auditions for the Monkees

Other Important Websites:
Remember Oklahoma City ~ Civil Service and Military Employees will never forget


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Page last updated July 17, 2007