Health Links for Women Who Served in Vietnam


But when it is a beloved and intimate human being that is dying, 
besides this horror at the extinction of life there is a severance, 
a spiritual wound, which like a physical wound is sometimes fatal 
and sometimes heals, but always aches and shrinks 
at any external irritating touch.
~Leo Tolstoy "War and Peace"

Post Traumatic Stress

       Patience Mason's Website

"It is normal to be affected by trauma. Normal. Normal." -- Patience Mason

If you are here to learn about PTSD, the first thing you have to do is go to Patience' website.  She has lots of good information that she is giving away, such as samples of her newsletter The Post-Traumatic GazetteHere is a snippet from the issue on holidays:

"Most people do not realize that people with PTSD have anniversary reactions. Holidays may also be anniversaries of trauma and bring up a lot of pain. This is one of the most distressing forms of reexperiencing for survivors and their families."

Visit her bookstore page and browse for books, especially her groundbreaking book 'Recovering from the War.

"All the books here are focused on healing for trauma survivors. They are respectful of trauma survivors and their family members."

Personal Responsibility in Traumatic Stress Reactions (excerpt) - John Russell Smith

"Although highly regarded by her peers, she feels ashamed and inadequate about her performance as a nurse in Vietnam. Afraid to look into the future, she refused to look at the past, feeling that if she did, she would start crying and never stop."

Vietnam War Health Issues (Pocket Card Website)

Excellent VA resource

For the Vietnam Spouse

"When you find yourself in love and living with a Vietnam Veteran you have to be willing emotionally to go the whole nine yards."

An interactive forum for the discussion of PTSD.  This forum is for use by Vietnam Veterans, their friends and family.


"Linda thought Vietnam was behind her. There had been temper flare-ups, drinking binges and occasional nightmares, but she never related it to anything. In her sleep, Linda kept seeing the casualties and the body-bags. . . Her difficulties were compounded by a self imposed system of denial. She was convinced that because she wasn't a nurse or a grunt, that she really didn't see anything over there."

Medical legacies of Vietnam Live On - Lynda Van Devanter

"You learn pretty early on that if you drink enough, you don't dream and if you don't dream, you don't have nightmares. So consequently, you have all these people coming back drinking, . . ."

Some Findings from a National Study of Women Veterans

The National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study found that approximately 27% of women Vietnam veterans suffered from PTSD sometime during their postwar lives.

About Medications For Combat PTSD - Jonathan Shay, M.D., Ph.D.

Good analysis of available drugs and their affect.

The Forgotten Veterans: 60 Minutes II interviews Diane Evans 71st Evac, Jackie Rhoads 18th Surg, and Patty Langford

"Because nurses were not officially in combat, few people believed they could suffer the aftereffects of war, like nightmares and flashbacks. Jackie Rhoads was one of these skeptics: "I remember thinking, 'Oh, I don't think they really exist.'"

Back in the World War Wounds Surfacing for Many Nurses

The brave front worked until she reached age 49, when nightmares, flashbacks and indecisiveness became so overwhelming she was hospitalized twice.

"Most of the time was spent denying that there was anything wrong with me. That's true of a lot of nurses with PTSD, to hide what's going on inside yourself. You want to believe you're stronger than this, but it has nothing to do with strength or weakness. We lived a year, in a formative year of our life, in a very abnormal situation.

More technical info . . .



Agent Orange

Used with the kind permission of Gary D. Moore

RN explores Agent Orange's lasting effects on women vets 

". . . that groundbreaking research revealed Agent Orange as an equal opportunity toxin — just as harmful to women as it has been to men -- causing increased rates of cancers, miscarriages and other health problems."

Agent Orange Website

Guide to determining exposure as well as to filing a claim

VA Agent Orange Website (Pocket Card Website)

For These Women, The Battle Continues

"Out of the more than 500 military women who have reported coming in contact with Agent Orange, 85 to 90 percent were nurses."

Medical legacies of Vietnam Live On - Lynda Van Devanter

"Besides battling her memories, [she] is now fighting a degenerative disease that is attacking her joints and organs. Her doctors say the cause of her illness is exposure during the war to a combination of chemical agents and pesticides used to clear trees and identify targets."

What was Operation Ranch Hand?

"Operation Ranch Hand was the military code for the spraying of herbicides from U.S. Air Force aircraft in Vietnam from 1962 through 1971.  Prior to 1965, Agent Pink and Agent Green were the predominant defoliants, then Agent Orange, Purple and White following by a little lacing with DDT. The Ranch Hand Personnel were most closely linked to exposure because of handling and spraying of defoliants, and therefore have been the main focus of research studies to determine adverse effects." ~ Nurse Chris B., RVN

Chemical Composition

Agent Orange is the name used by the U.S. military for a 1:1 mixture of the herbicides 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. The name, Agent Orange, was derived from the orange stripe on drums in which the herbicide was stored.


Other Health Information

Australian Female Vietnam Veteran & Civilian Health Register 

The following women who landed in Vietnam or entered Vietnamese waters (were in-country) for a minimum 24 hour period; during or following the Vietnam War to assist Australia’s and the Allies’ military presence or peacemaking roles or to conduct post-war activities are invited to register on the Female Vietnam Veteran & Civilian Health Register:

  • members of Australian defence organisations (the Australian Army, Navy and Air Force), including women who were seconded to Allied services;
  • members of philanthropic organisations, civilian nursing, medical and surgical teams; 
  • official entertainers; 
  • flight attendants; 
  • administrative personnel; 
  • war correspondents; and 
  • women who travelled to Vietnam to support a serving or ill family member.


Morbidity of Australian Female Vietnam Veterans

Recognising the sampling limitations of the survey, the conditions for which there is apparent statistically significant excess in female veterans in comparison to the general community are: 

  • asthma 
  • breast cancer 
  • depression 
  • eczema and dermatitis 
  • gastric reflux 
  • haemorrhoids 
  • hearing and ear problems 
  • hepatitis (A and B) 
  • hydatidiform mole 
  • ischaemic heart disease 
  • live births with labour complications 
  • malaria 
  • overall total of cancers 
  • panic attacks 
  • self-assessed rating of fair or poor health 
  • stillbirths 


VA Links

I understand there is much anger directed toward the government and the VA.  Do not let your experience, or someone else's experience, with the VA in the past or with the VA at another location deter you from using the VA now.  
Give your local VA a chance!

  Comment in the guest book on your recent experience with your VA or:

25 Most Frequently Asked Questions by Women Veterans (Doc file will download)

VONAPP - Apply On-line

What programs are available for women veterans?

How to apply.

Find your local Vet Center or VA Hospital

Counseling and Treatment for Sexual Trauma

Center for Women Veterans

The mission of the Center for Women Veterans is: 

Women Veteran's Issues

Important links

Pocket Card Website

Excellent VA resource that covers PTSD, Agent Orange, Sexual Harassment and Trauma, and other health related topics.

VA Health Care For Women: Progress Made in Providing Services to Women Veterans (Letter Report, 01/29/99, GAO/HEHS-99-38).

"Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the status of the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) health care program for women, focusing on: (1) the progress VA made in removing barriers that may prevent women veterans from obtaining VA health care services; and (2) the extent to which VA health care services, particularly gender-specific services, are available to and used by women veterans."


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Do you know someone in the service?


My Vietnam Related Websites:
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
Tim O'Brien's Home Page ~ National Book Award Winner and Americal Vet
Emily's Poetry ~ By a Red Cross Donut Dolly
Shrapnel in the Heart ~ The most moving book you will read on Vietnam
All About Vietnam    ~ An annotated bibliography of books about Vietnam for sale thru Amazon Worldwide!
Battle Dressing ~
Project Hearts and Minds ~ Help put Viet Nam back together
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:
The Truth About Caroline ~ a  really good Young Adult book by my niece, Stacey M. Lane Grosh
Remember Oklahoma City ~  The Civil Service and Military will NEVER forget!
Milton L. Olive III ~ Posthumous Medal of Honor Recipient
Search WWW Search Illyria
Search Spencer Group Search Vietnam Veterans

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Page last updated July 18, 2007

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