Research Papers on Women and PTSD After Vietnam
By the end of their tours, women serving in the Vietnam War returned home scarred emotionally and often physically as well. It is estimated that one-third of the women nurses and Red Cross workers suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) a psychological disorder characterized by the following:
“… In Vietnam, you didn’t deal with or process feelings… Anything that happened wasn’t real. You just got through it. You just survived it,”. The drastic change from the hectic, never-ending, exhausting work to the slower pace life once home left many women feeling empty. Many went from job to job searching for the same challenge and adrenaline rush they’d experienced in the Vietnam War. Their well-developed skills were no longer recognized or respected. Winnie Smith in her book American Daughter Gone to War tells of the time in 1984 when she went to renew her CPR certification. The instructor criticized Winnie for checking pulse and respiration simultaneously. Winnie argued that doing so would save time. Indeed, during her tour in Vietnam, every second counted when it came to saving lives. The instructor insisted that she stick to protocol. As Winnie continued to argue her point she discovered that her instructor, the person who is certified to teach CPR, has never performed a live resuscitation. To which Winnie responded, “You have some nerve,”.
Most women reported having difficulty in establishing long-term personal relationships. Other symptoms included not wanting to hear about the war, these women were not able to understand the ghosts that haunted them. Most endured the nightmares, flashbacks and bouts of depression alone. Many that did marry, chose partners that where also veterans who were as emotionally scarred, but at least could understand what it felt like to be displaced in their own country.