12 Tháng Năm 201012:00 SA(Xem: 3388)

According to the article "Scandal of the Heroines of Vietnam," First lieutenant LYNDA VAN DEVANTER received no hero's welcome after having completed a year in Vietnam. She said the day she got back to the United States, there was a transit strike in San Francisco. She stood on the Oakland Bridge with her thumb out, wearing her fatigues and combat boots. She said:


"Cars went by, and the looks they gave me were like I was a bug or a disease. A couple of cars stopped. I'd run over to get the ride, and they'd roll down their windows and spit at me and drive off."


That was the start of ten years of anguish for LYNDA. She said: "I had nightmares, and I was unable to function. There were periods of six months where I'd cry and couldn't stop." (17)


In a The Washington Post interview she explained "Every Vietnam veteran was told he was a fool, a real sucker, for going over there, but for women, it's been even worse. People figure you were either a hooker or a lesbian if you were a woman in the army in Vietnam.'' (18)


Ms. DEVANTER also said she returned home to such hostility and accusations that there was no question of having any pride or receiving any gratitude for what she had done. (19)


She also feels the public has a negative stereotype of women veterans. She said: "They think women veterans are six-feet-two, weigh 240 lbs., and chew tobacco in their left cheeks. First of all, that stereotype is irrelevant and inaccurate. Most women veterans are the girl next door, just as most male veterans are the

boy next door. We were just patriotic, idealistic Americans who wanted to help our country.'' (20)


CHRIS NOEL, the singer, dancer and radio personality, shared LYNDA's anguish on her return. She said: ``I have walked around paralyzed for 11 years. I functioned on another level. I lost all my self-esteem. When people found I was there, they'd turn around and walk away. People would ask stupid questions like ‘Did you kill someone?’ or `Did you have a good time?'” (21)


According to SHAD MESHAD, who was a social work / psychology officer with the army in Vietnam, women veterans were accused of being "whores and dykes because they were women who had gone to the war." (22)


Worse than anything else, after having fruits and obscenities thrown at her by the people at Seattle airport the day she came home, CHARLOTTE MILLER could never get back to being close to her father. For several years, she'd had no contact with her father because she'd been told not to call him. She said: "To prove my love for him, I cut myself off from my service friends. I regret that. People don't care about what happened in Vietnam, especially women who haven't experienced it." (23)


Despite her fellows' indifference, she felt proud of her accomplishment. She said if she had to do it over, she'd go. She explained "I wanted to go. I volunteered, I went into the military, and I requested to go to Vietnam. It seemed that was a humanitarian thing to do. If our men were there, the least I could do is go over and help." (24)


Ms. DEVANTER feels the only time women veterans were treated equally was when they were in Vietnam. As is often the situation in war, all social barriers, whether racial or sexual, were broken down. People in wars become dependent on each other for survival and therefore the race or sex of their comrades becomes secondary to the matter of staying alive. (25)


Unlike other women veterans, actress CHRIS NOEL, CHARLOTTE MILLER, and CATHY GRUMBECK (26) liked their time in Vietnam. Mrs. MILLER said in a The New York Times interview on March 23, 1981: "Life over there was so real and in some ways so much easier. There was no such thing as black or white, male or female. We dealt with each other as human beings, as friends. We worked hard, we partied hard,

we were a unit. A lot of us, when we left, wished we didn't have to come home."

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