My Dad is a Viet Nam Vet RN/ Anesthetist
As American involvement in Vietnam escalated in the 1960s, the military's need for medical personnel rose as well. A shortage of qualified nurses in the United States coupled with the requirements of providing adequate troops abroad meant increased opportunity for male nurses. To meet the needs of Army personnel, the Army Nurse Corps actively recruited men, a segment of the nursing population that had previously faced daunting restrictions in the Army Nurse Corps (ANC). Amidst mounting tension, the Army Student Nurse Program began accepting men and provided educational funding and support. Additionally, Congress extended commissions in the Regular Army to previously excluded male nurses. Men answered the call and actively took advantage of the new opportunities afforded them by the demands of war. They entered the educational programs and committed to serve their country through the ANC. Once admitted to the corps, a large percentage of male nurses served in Vietnam. Their tours of duty proved invaluable for training in trauma medicine. Further, these men experienced personal and professional growth that they never would have received in the civilian world. They gained confidence in their skills and worked with wounds and diseases seldom seen at home. For many, the opportunities created by the war led to a career in military medicine and meant the chance to seek additional training after nursing school, often specialized training. Relying heavily on oral histories and the archives of the Army Nurse Corps, this study examined the role these nurses played in entrenching men as a vital part of the ANC.
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