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The Quiet Heroines: Nurses in Wartime with Diane Carlson Evans


Heroine: A woman admired or idealized for her courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities

Keynote Speaker: Diane Carlson Evans, a former Army combat nurse and Vietnam veteran, founded the Vietnam Women's Memorial to pay tribute to and to memorialize the more than 265,000 women who served during the Vietnam War.

Diane shared her experience as a nurse in Vietnam and her efforts in establishing the memorial.  A panel of local nurse veterans followed her presentation.  

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Diane Carlson Evans, RN, is the Founder of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation  (formerly the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project), and President and CEO of the Board of Directors. The idea for a memorial to honor women who served during the Vietnam war was envisioned by Diane Carlson Evans who led the ten-year struggle to complete the circle of healing with the placement of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.   In her words,  “…women are also soldiers.  Women also need to heal. Their service is worthy of honor and recognition.”  That recognition took place on November 11, 1993 with the dedication of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial

Diane Carlson Evans, FN, Biography

Diane EvansDiane Carlson Evans, RN is the Founder of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation (formerly “Project”) and President of the Board of Directors.  Ms. Evans served as a Captain in the Army Nurse Corps during the Vietnam War.  A native of Minnesota, she graduated as a registered nurse in l967.  During her six years in the military, Evans served in Vietnam in 1968-69, as a staff nurse in the surgical and burn wards at the 36th Evacuation Hospital, Vung Tau and later as head nurse in a surgical unit with the 71st Evacuation Hospital at Pleiku.

Her first-hand knowledge of the casualties of the Vietnam war, and the sacrifices of the women who volunteered to leave the comforts of home to support their fighting brothers in a foreign land, led her on a mission. Founding the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project in 1984, Ms. Evans’ goal was to acknowledge the valiant service of the “quiet heroes” during one of the country’s most difficult eras and to educate the nation about their service.  After a decade of raising five million dollars, leading a grass roots effort, and lobbying Congress and federal agencies for a memorial that honors the women who served during the Vietnam War, legislation signed by both Presidents Reagan and Bush enabled Ms. Evans’ dream to become a reality.  A bronze monument, dedicated November 11, 1993, now stands on the Mall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. as an everlasting tribute to the 265,000 women who served during the Vietnam War. 

Today, Evans works tirelessly as an advocate for veterans, facilitates research, and participates in educational activities throughout the United States.  She serves on several boards, has a particular interest in the effects of the aftermath of war including Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Agent Orange, and Depleted Uranium.  Awards for her work include Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters from Haverford College, Sacred Heart University, and Carroll College. 

Ms. Evans is the mother of four children; her husband Mike, also a veteran, is a surgeon at a VA Medical Center.  She and her husband reside in Montana.  In her spare time, Diane is an avid runner, hiker, and cross-country skier.