Claiming trauma
Women in the Vietnam War
in Working in a world of hurt
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Unlike representations of military doctors and nurses in the First and Second World Wars as working heroically against all odds, returning medical personnel from the Vietnam War were seen as an integral part of a vilified military machine. The negative reception on their return home profoundly affected the psychological trauma they carried in the war’s aftermath. In the particular instance of nurses they were even denied the support of veterans groups, since, being women, they were not considered to have a legitimate claim to belonging to these organisations. This chapter focuses on writing (and some interviews) by Vietnam nurse veterans and their importance as the first medical personnel in the 20th Century to claim the legitimacy of their experience as traumatic. As important as their political action, their memoirs paved the way for a broader understanding of what was beginning to be diagnosed as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the recognition that it was induced not only by combat, but by constant witnessing of and medical response to the violent consequences of war.

Working in a world of hurt

Trauma and resilience in the narratives of medical personnel in warzones


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